At least 17,000 people have signed up to take part in legal
action against the ANZ over alleged unfair penalty fees.
ANZ customers were given until midnight on Friday to join the
action which is the first in a number of cases expected to be
taken against the major banks by the Fair Play on Fees group.
Lawyer Andrew Hooker, who is fronting the action, said it was
still collating the final sign up numbers.
"However"we can safely say that the final figure for ANZ will
be in excess of 17,000 people."
The case is set down for a procedural court hearing in early
March and Hooker is hopeful that the full case will be heard
"We are certainly pushing it to go to trial next year," he
The case alleges that default fees charged by the bank in
situations such as unarranged overdrafts, bounced cheques and
late and over-limit credit card fees are "unenforceable
penalties"and should be paid back to customers.
"The reason that an unarranged overdraft fee on a deposit
account is unfair is the same reason that a credit card late
payment fee is unfair - these fees are set far above what it
actually costs the bank to manage the default that arises,"
Hooker has previously said.
In its statement of defence the ANZ said that when customers
open an account with it they agree to certain terms and
conditions including what fees would be incurred for specific
"events"such as late payment and unarranged overdrafts.
The bank argued that the fees were not payable as
"damages"for breach of the terms and conditions of the ANZ
and National Bank accounts.
Rather they were payable when certain "events"occurred within
accounts that customers were not entitled to as part of their
Hooker has already filed a second case against Kiwibank with
the state-owned bank expected to file its defence by March
A third bank target was due to be announced before the end of
the year but Hooker said due to the amount of time needed to
identify representatives and gather evidence it was now
likely to be February.
"It's hugely time consuming."
Meanwhile similar action against the ANZ in Australia has
made it to court with the judge expected to make a ruling on
it sometime in the next few months.
"We are awaiting that decision with interest, as I am sure
the ANZ are," Hooker said.
The New Zealand legal action is being run on a no win no fee
basis so customers who sign up will have no upfront costs.
Australia litigation firm Slater & Gordon is backing the
case which is being funded by Litigation Funding Services.
People wanting to register to join the case can sign up at
- By Tamsyn Parker of the NZ Herald