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Maurice Blackburn files lawsuit against banks

A number of major and regional Australian banks are facing a class action over late bank fees charged to consumers, after Maurice Blackburn Lawyers filed a suit yesterday.

The plaintiff law firm yesterday filed against Westpac, Citibank, St George, Bank of South Australia and ANZ, with the backing of litigation funder Bentham IMF.

The firm said in a communication that if the class actions are successful, any customer of those institutions who has ever been charged late payment fees will have a “right to access some compensation for those unfair charges”.

Maurice Blackburn head of class action practice Andrew Watson said this follows the firm’s success earlier this year against ANZ on late fees, which has “opened the door for millions of customers to recoup what is rightfully theirs”.

“Our case is based on the earlier Federal Court ruling against ANZ,” said Mr Watson.

“Whilst that judgment is under appeal, we think we have a very strong case and that this course of action provides the best safeguard for the rights of all those consumers affected by late fees.”

Mr Watson said the firm has plans to extend the action to CBA, NAB, BankWest and American Express also.

“What we’re doing today opens the gates of justice to millions more Australians and means that previous estimates of the numbers of people affected and the compensation amounts owed will be dwarfed by the new state of play,” he said.

Bentham IMF investment manager and head of client group James Middleweek said the “open class proceedings will enable all bank customers who have suffered exorbitant late fees to benefit from a successful outcome to the bank fees litigation”.