Deadline Set for Kiwibank Customers to Sign up for Class Act
7 March 2014
Deadline Set for Kiwibank Customers to Sign up for Class Action
The High Court in Auckland made a series of initial orders yesterday in the bank fees class action against Kiwibank.
Importantly, the Court has confirmed the opportunity for thousands more Kiwibank customers to sign up to the case, ahead of a final deadline of 31 March 2014.
Fair Play on Fees lawyer Andrew Hooker says the ruling is great for potential claimants. “We’ve not been able to guarantee the inclusion of those Kiwibank customers who’ve come forward since we issued the case in November last year. Now we can confirm that all Kiwibank customers have three weeks to come forward and join this important action.
As part of this procedure Kiwibank provided the Court and its customers with an assurance that customers who participate in the case will face no discrimination from the bank.
“We expect that thousands more Kiwis out there who are still eligible to join the case. We will be urging Kiwibank customers to consider their rights to join over the next three weeks. Anyone coming forward after 31 March will find that it is too late to join this case”.
The High Court has also given the proceeding the green light to proceed as a representative action, and approved the litigation funding arrangements between the claimants and funder Litigation Lending Services.
Mr Hooker said “This case shows the advantage of class action proceedings. To run this kind of case on your own would be almost impossible but together we can challenge the banks’ fee charging practices.”
The case alleges that the following default fees charged by the bank over the past few years are unenforceable penalties which should be returned to participating claimants:
• Unarranged overdraft fees;
• Dishonour fees;
• Credit card late payment fees;
• Credit card over limit fees.
Fair Play on Fees has announced that, in addition to the ongoing cases against ANZ and Kiwibank, it will also be issuing cases against ASB, BNZ and Westpac.
A similar action run in Australia resulted in a judgment last month which found that credit card late payment fees were unfair penalties that the bank was required to repay. Lawyers for the claimants in that case lodged an appeal this week against the court’s findings that the other default fees were not penalties. That appeal is likely to be heard later this year.
The Australian case also found that claimants who operated under the belief that the bank was entitled to charge the fee were not constrained by the usual six-year time limit for bringing a claim.
“The law in New Zealand regarding time limits closely mirrors the relevant Australian legislation, so we are hopeful that these cases will now be able to claim unfair fees going back decades.”
A court date for trial proceedings in the Kiwibank case is expected to be set later this year.