New Bank Charges £100,000 Fighting Fund & Legal News (including the Berwick case)

MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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Thought I would keep you all updated. Today I put out the following press release....

Warning to the banks! £100,000+ legal fighting fund pledged
Senior lawyers advise bank charges reclaims should succeed in court
Kevin Berwick aims to appeal to the Financial Ombudsman

Bank charges campaigners today fire a shot across the bows of the banks. The UK’s biggest money website MoneySavingExpert.com and the specialist bank charge reclaiming website ConsumerActionGroup.co.uk have pledged a new legal fighting fund for bank charges reclaiming. It’s part of a series of announcements following a Birmingham County Court judge’s decision on 15 May to turn down Kevin Berwick’s case against Lloyds TSB. The highlights include:
  • Pledges of over £100,000 to support legal fighting fund.
    MoneySavingExpert.com and ConsumerActionGroup.co.uk, as well as private individuals, have pledged over £100,000 to a legal fund, which if activated will be held in trust by the Govan Law Centre. The fund will be activated if a suitable opportunity for a precedent setting bank charges claim arises.
  • Kevin Berwick aims to go to the Financial Ombudsman not back to court.
    The senior QC engaged to give an opinion on the case says that Berwick v Lloyds TSB plc doesn’t deal with any principle of law and is of no legal importance. The decision fell solely on the failure to lodge evidence. Sadly, the rules don’t permit fresh evidence in civil appeals and therefore the case would need to be based upon the same inadequate evidence as considered by the trial judge. Therefore Mr Berwick is instead looking to continue his claim via the Financial Ombudsman (see Notes to Editors 2).
  • Senior lawyers advise there’s little difficulty winning bank charges cases.
    After examining the QC’s view on Berwick v Lloyds TSB plc, the Govan Law Centre’s principal solicitor, Mike Dailly, advises there would be little difficulty in winning bank charges cases in court if claimants are properly prepared. Lloyds TSB is merely disguising its penalties by claiming that its charges are a fee for a service – UK courts have traditionally looked behind such ‘legal shams’.
  • Reclaiming continues as before, with court awards ignoring Berwick case.
    The news of this one anomalous decision hasn’t stopped the flow of payouts: hundreds more people have received their money back since then, joining the thousands of successes across the country. This case has had no bearing in law and in practice sets no precedent; in fact even according to other judges it’s ‘irrelevant’ (quoted on BBC Radio 4 Moneybox).

    The ConsumerActionGroup also reports that since the Berwick decision there’s already been at least one Lloyds TSB case in Worcester in which a judgment was given to the claimant even though the judge was fully aware of the Berwick decision.
While the decision a fortnight ago was most unfortunate for Kevin Berwick, we look forward to seeing this consumer revolution continue, and many millions more pounds of unfair bank charges reclaimed from Lloyds TSB plc and other UK banks over the next few months. All the banks, including Lloyds, are continuing to pay out when they realise that the claimant is prepared to stand their ground.

Scandalously banks are trying to intimidate claimants erroneously citing Berwick.

Reports are coming in that some banks have taken this one anomaly, and both in letter and on the phone are trying to scare people away from reclaiming.

Martin Lewis, the creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, which has had over 3.3 million free template letters downloaded from it since November, says,

“It’s almost laughable. In football parlance the banks are crowing about the fact that they’re now only losing 100,000 to one not 100,000 to nil. This is a desperate attempt to scare people away and it’s important that we don’t allow their spin and spiel to put people off. I’d urge everyone who’s already had a payout to act as reclaiming ambassadors and persuade others to take up the gauntlet. Remember, most people get a settlement without ever getting close to needing court action, just by sending a couple of free template letters. Don’t let banks’ spin and spiel scare you off.”

What does this mean for those currently reclaiming charges?

Marc Gander, co-founder of the ConsumerActionGroup which has helped its members reclaim over £11 million, says,

“Most people get paid out without needing to go to court. Those who do go to court usually win by default. Yet for the rare few where the bank does put up a defence, the big lesson to learn is that even though they don’t show up in court it’s still worth doing proper preparation. Our aim is to ensure every bank customer who reaches this stage is perfectly prepared. We’re enhancing our detailed free guide even further to ensure no more of these anomalies slip through the net and urge people to use this resource.”

Kevin Berwick still pleased to support the bank charges campaign

Kevin Berwick comments, “It’s important people understand that the bank had already offered me a settlement before going to court. I decided I wanted to go ahead as I believe that the banks are wrong to take this money from us and I’m proud that I stood up to them. I would continue to urge everyone who’s had bank charges to keep going.”

Web resources

Bank Charges Reclaiming Guide, Letters and Video: www.moneysavingexpert.com/bankcharges
Detailed legal explanation, case letters and case preparation: www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk

**** END****

Notes to Editors

1. Why did the Berwick case happen? What caused the anomaly?

In similar cases most judges across the country have thrown the case out of court. In this one rare case the judge decided to hear the case and cross examine an ordinary member of the public, even though the bank, as is their custom, hadn’t turned up in court. On top of that, this decision was made even though a copy of the terms and conditions was unobtainable.

The evidence wasn’t sufficient

The judge advised that Mr Berwick had supplied insufficient evidence as to the bank’s terms and conditions and because Mr Berwick responded to a line of questioning by the judge in a way which undermined his own case.

Why no appeal in this case?

As the rules do not permit fresh evidence to be adduced in civil appeals, an appeal would have to be based merely upon the same inadequate evidence which had been considered by the trial judge.

This restriction on an appeal judge would mean firstly that it would be likely that a successful appeal would be on such limited grounds that it would have very little value to anyone else.

A properly prepared case should win

The legal advice now obtained suggests that a bank charges claimant, properly prepared and who had filed all the necessary evidence, would have comparatively little difficulty winning his case on the basis that Lloyds TSB is merely disguising their penalties by claiming that their charges are a fee for a service.
It’s important to note victims of unlawful bank charges should continue to reclaim their money but make sure that they are properly prepared when doing so.

A precedent has not been set

It should be pointed out to claimants and the banks that Kevin Berwick’s case does not create any kind of precedent. It seems that several banks are already attempting to persuade their customers to drop bank charges claims by claiming deceptively that the judgment shows that claims have no basis in law.

Banks have lost since the Berwick decision

Since the Berwick judgment thousands have successfully won claims including at least one case in Worcester in which the case against Lloyds TSB was dismissed and judgment given to the claimant even though the judge was fully aware of the Berwick decision. In similar cases most judges across the country have thrown the bank’s case out and awarded to the complainant.

2. Can Kevin Berwick still appeal to the ombudsman?

We understand that the ombudsman has discretionary jurisdiction to adjudicate on financial complaints from consumers after legal proceedings have been issued.

The following information is taken from Ombudsman news - issue 32 - October 2003
“Insurance firms occasionally try to insist that we cannot look at complaints about underwriting matters, or where legal proceedings have been issued. These misconceptions are a legacy from the past. The Terms of Reference of one of our predecessors, the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau, precluded such cases. However, the FSA rules give us wider powers and such cases are not outside our jurisdiction. They are, however, among the types of cases that we can, under the rules, decline to deal with”.

3. 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 7500 people have recovered over £11million so far. We believe that the survey represents only about 35% of the true figure recovered.

4. 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 UK’s 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 Martin’s 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.

5. About Martin Lewis:

TV Money saving guru Martin Lewis is the creator of MoneySavingExpert.com. He is an ultra specialised journalist; the presenter of ITV1’s Make Me Rich (currently being repeated on ITV2) and regularly presents ITV1’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald. He’s author of the bestselling books The Money Diet & Thrifty Ways for Modern Days, and regular Money Saving Expert/presenter on BBC1’s The One Show, GM TV, ITV1’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald and Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show amongst others. Martin created and owns MoneySavingExpert.com (picture available on request).

6. About the Govan Law Centre

The Govan law centre is a Glasgow based independent, charitable community controlled law centre operating in Scotland.
If you'd like to listen/watch a commentary on this, I've done a quick video explanation in my weekly Muttering video.
Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
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Replies

  • kelshaditkelshadit Forumite
    57 Posts
    :money:
    that is great news thanks for keeping up the good work we all appreciate it
    :rotfl: it's all making my head spin!!!!!!
  • CazzdevilCazzdevil Forumite
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    Fantastic news for me (who's about to go to court with her claim!), thanks for the post Martin xx
  • KTFKTF Forumite
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    Details of a second case here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6692559.stm
  • boo2905boo2905 Forumite
    129 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Hi

    I did write this post before but it's completly disappeared - has anyone seen that Lloyds have won another court case - but in this case I don't think there's much to worry about other than to pay close attention to the court documents you are asked to complete.


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6692559.stm
  • deary65deary65 Forumite
    818 Posts
    Lloyds TSB has won a second county court case against a customer trying to reclaim overdraft charges.

    http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6692559.stm
    Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.
  • MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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    Hi folks,

    Thanks for the notes. A couple of things.

    1. I've been PM'd to see if this site is giving money. Yes it is. And while I didnt' feel it was appropriate in the press release, I can tell you I've pledged £50,000 from MoneySavingExpert.com for the fighting fund.

    2. The second Lloyds TSB case isn't really a concern, as the man wasn't there, its much more likely to have been thrown out. As the release states, proper preparation is the key.

    Martin :)
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • keeperbearkeeperbear Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Mortgage-free Glee!
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    In light of the second case win by the banks, Martin's press release now looks pretty lame. The banks have now won two cases despite not attending court.

    I wish Martin would tone down the hype and rhetoric and give a balanced argument for once. An ill-prepared consumer will never win a court case. As many bank charge claimants cannot manage an overdraft and direct debits, it is no surprise that they cannot compile a decent legal case.

    Just as the courts are becoming annoyed by the banks tactics, judges will also tire of hearing ill conceived legal claims by consumers. If you claim, you can and may lose your case. Martin should acknowledge this potential, but he has created unfounded hope in my claimants.
  • MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
    8.3K Posts
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    In light of the second case win by the banks, Martin's press release now looks pretty lame. The banks have now won two cases despite not attending court.

    I wish Martin would tone down the hype and rhetoric and give a balanced argument for once. An ill-prepared consumer will never win a court case. As many bank charge claimants cannot manage an overdraft and direct debits, it is no surprise that they cannot compile a decent legal case.

    Just as the courts are becoming annoyed by the banks tactics, judges will also tire of hearing ill conceived legal claims by consumers. If you claim, you can and may lose your case. Martin should acknowledge this potential, but he has created unfounded hope in my claimants.

    I'm sorry I have to disagree with this. Since the Berwick case last week, there've been many hundreds of cases awarded to the claimant. In this second case sadly the claimant didn't turn up in Court and the case was prepared inadequately. I don't consider this decision anywhere even close to Berwick in terms of significant (and Berwick was only limited), yet even with Berwick there the legal advice is plain - properly prepared it should've won.

    However I do take on board your note; while I disagree about "ill-conceived" claims, I think there are "ill-prepared" claims. I've already redrafted the relevant parts oof the bank charges guide today (though its not been uploaded yet).

    The key notes I think people must undertstand are

    1. Most people don't get close to court, they're offered a settlement without getting anywhere near that. For them, all the above is irrelevant - and its crucial we don't put them off.

    2. Of those who do go to court, most are awarded by default with the banks not entering an acknowledgement/defence.

    3. If a defence is put in then you need to prepare thoroughly - and I think its at this point the 'bank charges campaigning' side hasn't done enough (me included) so far. We need people to be better versed in the arguments and better prepared in their defences. With that done, there shouldn't be a problem.

    As you can see by the above the CAG and MSE are co-operating to get things done. I will be linking to the CAG's section for preparing a defence in the new article which they're working on beefing up to try and get foolproof.

    Martin
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at www.moneysavingexpert.com/tips.
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • southernscousersouthernscouser Forumite
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    Totally off topic boss but was just wondering whether this site should do a running total of how much it has helped people reclaim? Would be quite interesting! If it doesn't already! :confused:
  • lewtlewt Forumite
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    how do i fully prepare the case im off to court twice soon. and find it hard to find on the thread as its a bit all over the place.... i understand why this is and that the BG's are doing all they can. yet im afraid i will lose. maybe there could be a sticky about what i need to remember if asked and stuff like that...

    Ps. Martin: ultra specialised journalist, hey? wicked title... i want one like that two. ;)
    If i upset you don't stress, never forget that god aint finished with me yet.
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