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Australia: Major Class Action over Bank Fees Launched

(Sept. 28, 2010) On September 22, 2010, a class action lawsuit against the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) was filed in the Federal Court of Australia, in the first of a series of claims being brought against several banks for the return of potentially more than AU$5 billion (about US$4.8 billion) of allegedly unlawful penalty or “exception” fees. (ANZ Hit by Class Action over Fees, ABC NEWS (Sept. 22, 2010),; Federal Court of Australia, Victoria Registry, File VID811/2010, John Andrews & Ors v ANZ Banking Group Limited, Commonwealth Courts portal, (last visited Sept. 24, 2010).)

The case against ANZ currently involves 27,199 individuals and businesses that are seeking the repayment of AU$50 million (about US$47.9 million), plus interest, of fees charged by the bank in the past six years for honoring payments made from overdrawn accounts, bounced checks, late payments on credit cards and loans, and over-limit fees on credit cards. These fees are typically between AU$25 and AU$60 each (about US$24 to US$57.50). The statement of claim alleges that the bank had acted unfairly under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act and the Trade Practices Act and that the fees were illegal because they were a penalty, rather than a genuine fee for services or for actual costs incurred by the bank. (Richard Gluyas, ANZ Bank to Vigorously Fight $50m Action, THE AUSTRALIAN (Sept. 23, 2010),

Similar claims may be brought in the coming months against three other large Australian-owned banks and up to eight foreign and regional banks, with the class-action law firm Maurice Blackburn saying that the cases have thus far attracted more than 200,000 claimants. The litigation is being funded by a company called IMF Australia and is being conducted on a “no-win, no-fee” basis. IMF Australia, together with Maurice Blackburn, will charge the clients a total of 25% of any awards. (Id.)

The Chief Executive of ANZ in Australia said that “ANZ will be defending this claim vigorously and we plan to hold IMF accountable for the impact of its actions.” (Id.)