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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Excess Charges Mass Hearing

Today will see a record number of people have their claims for the return of bank overdraft charges dealt with at Leeds Mercantile Court.

Around 200 cases have been scheduled to be heard, though some have been settled at the last minute.

Over the last 12 months there has been a surge in mass litigation, whereby angry bank customers have sued their banks for the return of the charges they have had to pay for having an unauthorised overdraft.

Banks have attempted to settle all the cases against them, rather than contest one before a judge; as they fear a precedent being set.

Were that to happen, all the banks would be forced to go back through their records for the past six years and repay the overdraft charges to every single customer who they have charged in that time.

In order to clear the large number of cases coming before district and county courts, mass hearings have taken place in the past few months at courts in Leeds, London, Guildford and Birmingham, with more to come in the next few weeks.

The banks have refused to say how many people have threatened to sue them, or how much they have paid out.

As I have said before, banks are in the business of making money. Even if a precedent were to be set, and every penny in overdraft charges were to be repaid, the banks would find other means of making money out of their customers (eg current account charges, lower interest rates on savings and higher rates on loans).

The dice are loaded in the banks' favour!

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