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ANZ first target in big Aussie class action suit over exception fees

ANZ first target in big Aussie class action suit over exception fees

ANZ first target in big Aussie class action suit over exception fees

ANZ says it will "vigorously defend" itself against a statement of claim filed against it in the Australian courts over allegations it has over charged customers through so-called exception fees.

The bank said it had been served with a statement of claim in what was believed to be part of a class action law suit against 12 banks operating in Australia relating to exception fees by litigation funder IMF. Earlier, the Sydney Morning Herald reported ANZ was likely to face a claim estimated at A$50 million.

Exception fees are avoidable penalty and late fees charged in circumstances such as when customers are overdrawn on the available limit in their account, are late in repaying their account or overdraw on credit cards.

“We recognised that these fees were unpopular with customers," said ANZ Australia CEO Philip Chronican.

"This is why we took action to simplify fees in line with our customers’ expectations and they have been benefiting from this new fee structure since December 2009. It’s a big leap however for a fee to go from being unpopular to being unlawful. ANZ will be defending this claim vigorously and we plan to hold IMF accountable for the impact of its actions,” Chronican said.

Christchurch law firm Wakefield Associates is eyeing a possible similar case in New Zealand, potentially against ASB, ANZ, BNZ, the National Bank and Westpac, but may be stymied by New Zealand not having legislation that allows class action law suits.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said last year banks over there charged exception fees of almost A$1.2 billion in the 2008 financial year.

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