Today, District Judge Cooke upheld a bank’s decision for applying charges to a customer account. Kevin Berwick felt the overdraft penalty charges applied to his account were unfair. The charges totalled £2545.
Most banks, when facing a claim for bank charges either settle out of court, or let it go to court and then settle before the hearing. Today’s event is the first time a bank has entered a defence and won. The Judge decided the bank’s charges were a legitimate charge for a service the customer had agreed to.
Unsurprisingly, Lloyds TSB were pleased with the outcome.
“It appears to acknowledge our position in respect of current account service charges,” said a spokeswoman.
“The court has agreed with us that these are charges for a service and not default or penalty fees as has been argued by others,” she added.
So, could this ruling set a precedent and stop others from successfully claiming back their charges?
Today’s ruling was made by a district judge, it does not affect any other court in the same way a High Court ruling does. However, now a judge has had the opportunity to cast an opinion on the situation, it may have some influence in later cases.
Consumer groups have voiced concerns, saying the bank’s defence stating the penalty charges were service charges is a common device for circumventing legislation. This is the first blow to consumers being unfairly charged by their banks, could there be more?