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Current as of 26/05/16 07:19PM NZST
Money Editor for NZ Herald

Court sets December deadline for joining lawsuit over bank fees

Hooker said there could be tens or hundreds of thousands of Kiwis still eligible to join the case. Photo / Dean Purcell
Hooker said there could be tens or hundreds of thousands of Kiwis still eligible to join the case. Photo / Dean Purcell

The High Court has given ANZ/ National Bank customers until December 13 to sign up to a lawsuit against the bank over fees, according to a group taking the case.

Fair Play on Fees lawyer Andrew Hooker lodged documents against the ANZ - New Zealand's largest bank - in June.

At the time, about 13,500 ANZ/National Bank customers had registered to take part and there was no guarantee that others would be able to join it.

Hooker said the court ruling would give thousands more people the opportunity to sign up.

"We are very happy for those ANZ/National Bank customers who came to us wanting to join the campaign after the court documents were lodged. We have over 1000 clients in this situation."

Hooker said there could be tens or hundreds of thousands of Kiwis still eligible to join the case.

"We will be doing what we can over the next seven weeks to ensure that as many people as possible know about their legal rights to join the case."

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. Hooker said the case had also been allowed to continue as a whole, rather than being broken into six groups covering the different fees as the ANZ bank had requested.

"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."

The next administrative hearing is expected to occur on November 28. A court date for the trial is expected to be set early next year.

Meanwhile, ANZ New Zealand has boosted its annual cash profit as staff cuts and fewer bad debts trimmed costs, offsetting smaller lending margins. Cash profit rose to $1.44 billion in the 12 months ended September 30 from $1.29 billion a year earlier, the bank said.

- additional reporting BusinessDesk

- NZ Herald

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