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Wed 4 July
www.MoneySavingExpert.com & www.ConsumerActionGroup.co.uk
Massive victory for bank charge campaigners
Banks will have to reveal internal costs in court
Summary of the day's events
Most cases settled - a victory for reclaimers
There were 44 cases to be heard, yet 37 were settled in full or nearly in full by the banks, who together paid out in excess of £50,000 to reclaimers. A remarkable victory, considering the judge was considering throwing these out of court. Most importantly, these included Lloyds TSB, the bank that had a decision in its favour in the now infamous Berwick case in Birmingham.
Strike out order abandoned for the remaining seven
Of the seven cases that were heard in the Hull court by Judge Ian Beresford, four were with the Yorkshire/Clydesdale bank which had lawyers in court to defend, and three were with Alliance & Leicester (which did not turn up). All seven claimants are being represented by Govan Law Centre and Raymond Cox QC, who is funded by the joint MoneySavingExpert.com and Consumer Action Group fighting fund.
While the lawyers for the Yorkshire argued the 'strike out' order should stand, the judge agreed not to strike the cases out (in other words he permitted the case to be heard). He also agreed to accept new 'particulars of claims', drafted by the legal team, adding to the claimants professionalism. The banks have 28 days from the 11 July to put in a written defence.
The judge has ordered full disclosure from the banks
Most importantly, the Judge ordered the banks to make a full disclosure on charges by the 28 September. This means they need to reveal how they arrive at their penalty charges costs, their internal cost structures and all analysis done on costs. This is a major victory for the bank charges campaigners.
Further update: It is understood the Yorkshire/Clydesdale
now wish to settle.
Background to the 44 cases
Bank charges reclaiming campaigners are eagerly awaiting the results of a landmark hearing scheduled in Hull County Court today.
District Judge Ian Besford had written to claimants saying he was considering striking out 44 claims as they disclosed no reasonable prospect of success in light of the recent Berwick v Lloyds TSB decision (where a Birmingham court was the first not to award a reclaim). This means these peoples cases wouldnt even be heard.
This direct challenge to the legitimacy of the entire bank charges campaign has been met head on by the two leading free reclaiming websites:
Fighting fund activated for the first time and top QC appointed. The
£100,000 bank charges joint campaign fighting fund is in action
for the first time, paid for by the UKs biggest money website
MoneySavingExpert.com and bank charge reclaiming specialist site
Consumer Action Group via the Glasgow based Govan Law Centre. Raymond
Cox QC has been appointed to head the legal challenge.
Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, which has had over 3.8 million free reclaiming template letters downloaded in just six months, says:
"This is a watershed case that should help close the judicial lottery for reclaimers and encourage more people to take on the banks. While the vast majority of people get paid out simply by sending off our free template letters, for the tiny minority that get to court the Berwick case breached the 100% success record. The overwhelming proportion of judges still throw out the banks' cases, but one or two maverick judges do take an opposite opinion. We decided to send a message to the banks that we won't back down, and put weight and resources behind the people of Hull to ensure consistency and fairness nationwide.
Marc Gander co-founder of the Consumer Action Group, which has given free assistance to help people reclaim nearly £15 million, says:
"This is an important case, not just in the law that will be derived, but also in how we will advise people to reclaim in future. By working with one of the leading banking QCs in order to prepare for the case, we have gained a mass of new material that we can make accessible to everyone who's reclaiming. This in itself should make future court successes more likely.
Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor of the charity the Govan Law Centre commented:
"If the Hull approach was left unchallenged we would have seen
the banks and possibly other courts across the UK following suit. It
could have marked the beginning of the end for the bank charges
revolution. So it was vitally important to prevent this mass strike
out and we have done so."
"This fight back has been a remarkable cross border effort, top QC Raymond Cox has been supported by the Govan Law Centre and local solicitor Baser Akoodie, plus a team of volunteers and supporters from both the campaigning websites. It's testimony to the British public's resolve not to give in to the financial sector's exploitation of vulnerable and hard working citizens."
Free Web resources for the public:
Bank charges reclaiming guide, letters and video: www.moneysavingexpert.com/bankcharges
Detailed legal explanation, case letters and case preparation: www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk
Govan Law Centre in Scotland: www.bankcharges.info
Notes To Editors
1. About the Fighting Fund
MoneySavingExpert.com and ConsumerActionGroup.co.uk, as well as private individuals, have pledged over £100,000 to a legal fund, to be held in trust by registered charity the Govan Law Centre. The fund is activated if a suitable opportunity for a precedent setting bank charges claim arises. The money is paid to the fund as and when the need arises. The cases in Hull have already seen five figure expenditure.
2. About the ConsumerActionGroup
The ConsumerActionGroup is a free-to-use, not-for-profit consumer
rights organisation with over 146,000 members and staffed by a team
of unpaid volunteers (this includes the founders of the group). It
was launched in January 2006 by Marc Gander, the legal specialist,
and Dave Smith for IT.
The group has been a leader in the campaign against bank charges and its style and materials have been a key influence on most other bank charges campaigns; and its campaigners have appeared as key players across the national broadcast and print media.
Its voluntary members survey indicates more than 8,500 people have recovered over £14 million so far. We believe that the survey represents only about 35% of the true figure recovered.
3. About MoneySavingExpert.com
Consumer revenge website MoneySavingExpert.com is a free to use consumer finance help resource. The aim of the site is simple: showing people how to save money on anything and everything and fight back against big companies profiteering. Set up four years ago, for just £100, its no advertising, free to use, ethical stance quickly made it the UKs biggest independent money website according to internet ranking site Alexa.com and number 1 Business and finance site according to Hitwise.
It currently has over 1,300,000 people opted in to receive its weekly Martins money tips e-mail, and nearly 3,000,000 unique monthly users of the site who visit over 5,000,000 times a month and receives more than 900 million hits per month.
4. About Martin Lewis:
TV Money saving guru Martin Lewis is the creator of MoneySavingExpert.com. He is an ultra specialised journalist; the presenter of ITV1s Make Me Rich (currently being repeated on ITV2) and regularly presents ITV1s Tonight with Trevor McDonald. Hes author of the bestselling books The Money Diet & Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, and regular Money Saving Expert/presenter on BBC1s The One Show, GM TV, ITV1s Tonight with Trevor McDonald and Radio 2s Jeremy Vine Show amongst others. Martin created and owns MoneySavingExpert.com (picture available on request).
5. About the Govan Law Centre
The Govan Law Centre (GLC) is a Glasgow based independent, community controlled law centre operating in Scotland. It is a registered Scottish charity - number registered with HM Revenue & Customs and Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator: SCO30193.
Its legal work is undertaken by the independent legal practice of Dailly & Co., Solicitors who are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland. All income of Dailly and Co., is the property of GLC. GLC is managed by local citizens from the community of Glasgow Govan. Further details on GLC work is available at www.govanlc.com