17,000 Kiwis Join Class Action Suit vs ANZ Over Excessive Bank Fees

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By Vittorio Hernandez | December 18, 2013 10:10 AM EST

About 17,000 New Zealand customers of the ANZ Bank joined a class action suit against the lender over excessive bank fees. The legal action was initiated by Fair Play on Fees Group.

The suit is expected to be in court by early 2014, said lawyer Andrew Hooker who is leading the action.

He said, quoted by Newstalkzb, "We're very confident, the legal principle that we're arguing has already been upheld in the high court of Australia, and we believe that our case is very strong."

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Similar class action suits has been launched by the group versus Kiwi Bank and it would likely file cases in early 2014 against BNZ, ASB and Westpac.

In Australia, on the first week of December, lawyers for the 43,500 ANZ Bank customers who filed a class action lawsuit against the lender, seeking $57 million in damage, said the claims could balloon into multi-billion dollars.

The legal counsel told the Federal Court in Melbourne at the start of the three-week hearing at the largest consumer class action in Australia's history that the ANZ case is just the first of eight planned class action lawsuits involving 185,300 customers of eight banks who are claiming $243 million in excessive over limit, late payment and other bank fees between $25 and $45 that the claim were illegal and not proportionate to actual cost.

They explained that since public pressure made the National Australia Bank (NAB) reduce its fees in 2009, the banks had illegally collected $5 billion in these fees for at least six year. Once the fees have been established in the court case as penalties, then it would apply to all the banks customers for all of the fees charged on them, said Andrew Watson, class action head of the Maurice Blackburn law firm.

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