More than 10,000 people have registered in less than 24 hours
to join a billion dollar legal case against New Zealand's
Auckland barrister Andrew Hooker, who is leading a law suit
to fight what he claims is illegal and unfair default fee
charges, said the take-up had been "enormous".
"I didn't have any expectations because I have never done
But he said Australian law firm Slater & Gordon, which is
backing the case, said the take-up rate was two or three
times that of the sign-ups for a similar case in Australia.
Yesterday (Mon) Mr Hooker said the group needed at least
10,000 people to sign up in order for the case to go ahead,
and he said the overnight response meant it was now a
"foregone conclusion" that the legal action would proceed.
Hooker said he hoped to file legal documents in the High
Court at Auckland within a month.
The group had yet to extrapolate data on which bank had
received the most number of customer registers, but he
believed it would be representative of their market share.
The ANZ is the largest bank in New Zealand. In Australia a
similar case against the ANZ is the first in a test case
being taken against up to 12 banks.
Hooker said the ANZ's size did not necessarily mean it would
be the first bank it targeted.
"We simply don't have enough information yet to know who will
be the first bank off the ranks."
Hooker yesterday estimated the case could attract 50,000 New
Zealanders to sign up, and this morning said he would be
happy "if we hit six figures."
He said the response from people registering indicated Kiwis
were "quite grumpy with their banks."
The case is being taken on a no win no fee situation, with
Australian litigation funders Litigation Lending Services
paying for the case and taking a 25 per cent success fee.
The banks have declined to comment individually on the case,
but New Zealand Bankers Association chief executive Kirk Hope
said the legal action did not appear to take into account the
differences between New Zealand and Australian law.
"There isn't such a thing as a class action in New Zealand."
Mr Hope said three out of the four fees being targeted under
the lawsuit were already regulated by the Commerce
"They [Commerce Commission] have previously taken action
against the banks. If they think there are issues they will
certainly look at them."
He said banks were willing to work with their customers on
fees, and if customers were unhappy they could just switch to
"We know the sector is pretty highly competitive."
New Zealand banks had a combined net profit of $16.4 billion
in the past six years, but Mr Hope said non-interest income
earned by the banks had been declining in recent years.
- Tamsyn Parker of the NZ Herald