Media Release | 29 September 2021
A multi-million dollar class action claim has been filed in the Auckland High Court against Australian owned banks ANZ and ASB (the Banking Class Action) for their failure to refund 150,000 customers money they were not allowed to take or keep.
The Banks’ actions have seen them unfairly profit from their unwitting customers, hard-working New Zealanders.
“Failing to refund money they’re not legally entitled to is not only wrong it undermines the trust consumers have in these important institutions. If the money paid by customers is not the Banks’ to keep, then they should give it back. Not just a portion of it, but all of it,” says Anthony Simons, an ASB customer and a representative plaintiff in the Banking Class Action.
“ANZ and ASB think by admitting to breaking the law, the consequences don’t apply to them. Hiring expensive lawyers and agreeing to significantly reduced payments with regulators means the Banks have avoided repaying what they owe to their customers. Banks are the first to enforce the rules when they are owed money, yet they ask for leniency when they break the law. If we do not challenge this kind of behaviour, we are condoning it and allowing it to continue.
This class action against ANZ and ASB is being brought under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA). It is estimated the Banks have failed to refund more than 150,000 customers interest and fees they were not entitled to charge due to breaches of their disclosure obligations. ANZ and ASB home and personal loan customers can find out more at the website www.bankingclassaction.com
“This consumer law is in place to protect the interests of ordinary New Zealanders when they borrow money. ANZ and ASB are massively profitable, very powerful banks with access to significant legal and compliance resources. As individuals, we are completely dependent on them to act responsibly and comply with the law when they’re dealing with our money. It’s critical ANZ and ASB honour their legal obligations to New Zealanders under consumer protection laws,” said Mr Simons.
“New Zealand consumers deserve better.”
Banking Class Action solicitor Scott Russell says, “The CCCFA is very clear. If a bank fails to comply with its disclosure obligations, it is not legally entitled to charge interest or fees on the affected loan until the failure is remedied. To the extent a bank receives interest or fees it is not entitled to, it must refund or credit those amounts to the customer as soon as practicable. In this case, the Banks have continued to charge interest and fees despite not being entitled to do so. The Banks’ failures to refund their customers constitute serious breaches of the provisions of the CCCFA.”
The Banking Class Action is being jointly funded by Australia-based litigation funder CASL and New Zealand litigation funder LPF Group.
CASL Managing Director, Stuart Price said “This is one of the most important class actions we have funded. It goes to the heart of the huge power imbalance that exists between banks and their individual customers, who without litigation funding would simply not have the resources to pursue legal action against ANZ and ASB for their serious failings.
“Extensive reviews into the culture and conduct of Australasian retail banks identified significant issues and a lack of accountability.
We hope this class action will encourage better service and respect for all bank customers, deter future breaches and improve regulatory compliance.
New Zealand based litigation funder LPF Group are co-funding the action with us and managing this case on behalf of both litigation funders.”
LPF Group Director, Phil Newland says “The recent Supreme Court decision that approved Opt-Out class actions expressly had consumer related claims in mind. This is an excellent example of an important case that should be taken.”