Banking Class Action solicitor Scott Russell has described the High Court decision that the multi-million-dollar class action against ANZ and ASB Banks can be conducted as an opt-out claim as significant.
"The High Court has agreed with our position that over 150,000 ANZ and ASB home and personal loan customers who were affected by their Bank’s alleged failure to comply with the law should be part of the class action.
Importantly, all of these customers are now part of the claim and will have the opportunity to get back the money our claim alleges their Bank was not entitled to charge or take from them. Unless they elect to opt-out of the claim,
The Banking Class Action is a legal case against Australian-owned banks ANZ and ASB (the Banking Class Action). It is being brought under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA). It is alleged 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.
Mr Russell adds “The approval by the High Court is important because it provides a high level of certainty that the case will now proceed through the court system.
For the hard-working New Zealanders who are entirely dependent on their bank to act responsibly and in accordance with the law, this means ANZ and ASB will be held to account for what our claim alleges are serious and ongoing breaches of our consumer protection laws.
“Opt-out actions work for claims such as this one where there are a lot of consumers who all have the same interest in the legal action, yet for different reasons, they may not realise or understand that they are eligible to participate. In addition, for an individual, it is highly unlikely they would ever be able to afford to take a legal claim against a well-funded defendant like a bank.
“It was our preference to conduct the claim as opt-out so that as many customers as possible could participate in the claim and the Court has agreed based on the precedent set in the Supreme Court ruling in Southern Response v Ross  case,” said Mr Russell.
He adds “The High Court has also agreed that the Court has the power to grant a Common Fund Order. The Court has invited an application being made at the conclusion of Stage 1 of the proceedings when the Bank’s liability will have been determined against the representative plaintiffs.
“Common fund orders provide transparency around the terms of funding, including legal costs and funder commissions. The Court’s approval means ANZ and ASB customers can make an informed assessment of the claim and it also reduces the potential for unnecessary challenges by the Banks and their insurance companies to delay the proceedings which only adds time and cost of the case but doesn’t address the merits of the claim,” said Mr Russell.