12 Mar 2013

Class action on bank fees unjustified - analyst

7:57 am on 12 March 2013

A banking analyst expects a big response to the calls for New Zealanders to join a proposed class action against the main banks though she says the litigation is unjustified.

New Zealand lawyer Andrew Hooker, Australian class action experts Slater & Gordon and Litigation Lending Services launched the Fair Play on Fees campaign on Monday.

They say up to one million New Zealanders could be eligible to claim back excessive default fees, estimated to be around $1 billion over the past six years.

Massey University senior lecturer in banking Claire Matthews is sceptical about the lawsuit.

Dr Matthews sees it as an attempt to generate some profits for those that are funding it and to generate some interest amongst the public and get them involved.

She said the basis of the claim is doubtful and it is not evident similar action being taken in Australia will be successful.

"They're trying to take what they've gained there and simply apply that in New Zealand, without reflecting on the fact that New Zealand is actually different."

Dr Matthews said despite the fact that the big four banks in New Zealand are Australian-owned, there are differences.

She said banks in Australia have traditionally charged greater fees than New Zealand ones.

Dr Matthews said given the changes New Zealand banks have made to fees in the last three and a half years it's difficult to see the justification for the case.