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Tom Brennan v NatWest - This is a must-read!!!


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Wow, It feels like I'm listening to people comment who've been to a funeral.

 

I'm gutted Tom lost as well but no fear - this is just round 1 or mabye round 2 - but we'll win in the end.

 

As Mistermind (above) says:

 

"Any account which, for being overdrawn £5 could previously have been punished with £600 penalties within a month made up of £35 charges"

 

Yeah - its bonkers and in the end the courts will see that.

 

But I like the last comment the best:

 

"Time to awake, the Great British Public, from John O'Groats to Lands End."

 

We've still got the following on our side:

 

1. Anyone - even a child could see that the charges are illegal, unfair and immoral.

 

2. Its an election year - do people really vote for governments who allow banks to steal from them - we'll soon see.

 

3. The OFT can't lose - they can drag their feet but it will be VERY embarressing for them is they lose. Civil servants are slow but they aren't totally stupid. They know its the governemt and the electorate who feed them at the end of the day.

 

4. Charges are overwhelmingly unpopular - this goes without saying but it should be repeated - Martin Lewis's site gets over 2 millions hits a month - and whats at the top of the page - unfair banks charges news - thats what. I wonder how many CAG gets....

 

5. A song about bank charges is about to make it into the charts - it can only help the cause.

 

6. Banks need customer deposits now more than ever in the wake of the subprime mess - they've lent out all their ready cash in the form of loans. And they were crap loans. The first one who breaks ranks and offers an account with no charges will get the first mover advantage and will get the lions share of new accounts - loads of lovely liquidity. This may happen sooner than we think.

 

7. Oh yeah - and HSBC have already told investors that the writing is on the wall for charges..........

Charges probe will hit profits, says HSBC - Google Search

 

 

 

So cheer up all - we may have lost the battle for damages - but we've almost won the war.

 

 

And PS.....To Mr Brennan.....I've been watching your fight from the beginning.....and I think we're all very grateful. I'm glad there are people like you going into the legal profession. It gives hope to us all.

A £35 pound bank charge is not a charge for a service. Its theft.

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Oh we're awake. We were trouncing them for 2 years. It was only a matter of time before that "breakthrough" case was heard until the OFT & FSA came & stamped on us.

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Alec, some of these links are being taken down already!!

 

FT.com - Charges probe will hit profits, says HSBC

 

Charges probe will hit profits, says HSBC

By Peter Thal Larsen and Kate Burgess

Friday Nov 23 2007 19:11

The chairman of HSBC, Stephen Green, on Friday warned of a profits squeeze in the UK banking industry as a result of regulatory scrutiny of bank charges and the growing power of consumers.

Mr Green said a legal challenge to banks' overdraft charges, due to be heard next year, could "change the economics of retail banking" in the UK, while growing use of the internet had made it easier for consumers to shop around.

"The net outcome of that is not that retail banking is going to become a low profitability business," he told analysts Friday. "But it is going to be less profitable than it is and is going to be growth constrained."

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3. The OFT can't lose - they can drag their feet but it will be VERY embarressing for them is they lose. Civil servants are slow but they aren't totally stupid. They know its the governemt and the electorate who feed them at the end of the day.

 

I am less concerned about the OFT losing, more concerned about the OFT winning and thereby setting in stone a highish figure which becomes legally enforceable and beyond future challenge by the plebs.

 

Not only the high level of penalty charges, but their frequency and justification are wrong. Banks' T&Cs are one-sided bargains dictated by banks to customers -- "Move your account if you don't like it, but you'll find other banks are the same."

 

Penalties need to fit misdemeanors, not the bottomless pit of bankers' greed. If an account is 38p short of meeting a cheque, the bank will bounce it and charge £38 -- a hundredfold penalty. And bounce again three days later, and bounce again three days later. Thus a 38p shortage is transformed into a death trap. It would be laughable, but the consequences for common folk are tragic.

 

 

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Yeah - I see what you mean by those links - its no conspiracy - its just that the CAG posts have been pushed up Google.

 

here's the original FT link:

 

FT.com / Companies / Financial services - Charges probe will hit profits, says HSBC

 

Mistermind: I see what you are saying - sadly I am resigned to them settling on a 'fair' fee. The big worry in the banks now is how to keep this type of fee legal. If they can get it set at £3, £5 or £12 then they may lose a bit but at least they get to keep it, and keep increasing it year on year with inflation (or above). The OFT are bound to roll over and let them have it in order to claim 'victory' by getting charges reduced to say £5. There is pretty much no way hell the banking industry will roll over and let this type of fee made illegal. Interesting you mention the frequency - this is going to be a tough one for both sides to reach an agreement on - and will probably end up being specifically regulated by the FSA.

 

"Penalties need to fit misdemeanors, not the bottomless pit of bankers' greed."

 

: wrong - a bottomless pit has no bottom

 

I'm not saying any of this is right but I am a realist - The banking industry will fight tooth and nail to keep this type of fee legal. It may be completely wrong - but from their point of view there has never been an easier way to make money. We're talking about billions of pounds at stake - it may be stolen cash - but its still cash to the banks.

 

I still have my doubts as to whether the OFT test case will actually go ahead in Jan. I think we could well see some sort of agreement reached with the banks and the OFT - eg:

 

They announce the test is case postponed because legal issue are complex - in the meantime we have set a 'fair' fee of £5 and everyone can now claim their money back above this level.

 

In fact I think it is pretty much a done deal - I think the only argument now is on the level and frequency of a 'fair' fee. Having the fees scrapped altogether is probably now out of the question.

 

This sort of scheme will allow the OFT & FSA to claim victory and put the matter to rest - claimants are happy because at least they get something and the banks are happy because this type of fee structure is preserved.

 

"It would be laughable, but the consequences for common folk are tragic"

 

Isn't that always the case?

A £35 pound bank charge is not a charge for a service. Its theft.

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One thing I can't get out of my head right now and this worries me lots.....will those involved be able to come to a conclusion that will be in the interests of those that this hurts the most?

 

Everytime something is looked at, the "majority" always comes into it. The waiver is fair for the majority of people, penalty charges don't affect the majority of customers. So will the decision benefit those that it really makes a difference to - the minority?

 

IMHO, if the banks want to make money then the idea of providing a service is the right road to go down. Forget trying to convince us all that they provide a service they charge us for like they are now. The service they provide is easy (don't laugh) transactions and that is where charging must come in.

 

Banks are always going to look to make money, that's a simple fact. But if they are going to they must do it fairly and equally. If you were charged per transaction you then have an equal system for all - the more you use us the more you pay for the privelidge. Your first 30 transactions are free (for example), we charge you per transaction after that. Someone told me that is how it works elsewhere around the world - I can't recall where!

 

Just my opinion...

 

Anyway, I'm going off topic a bit now.......Tom you should be knighted for you valiant efforts. I'm just sorry things didn't work out better for you let alone us, if just to repay all your hard work.

 

Let's hope whatever decision is made, it is fair for all of us. I just worry whether the bigwigs in the banks, the OFT and all these high paid judges will really be able to put themselves in our shoes......

If my post has been useful, tip my scales and let me know

 

Always start with the User guide!

Stuck with RBS charges? Click here!!

 

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You know, reading through the decision quickly it strikes me that the banks seemed to have saved themselves by 1. trying to reach a settlement outside the courts, 2. them paying back everything outstanding.

 

I reckon, had the bank not paid back anything and not made the offer to settle that this may have had a different ending.

 

Anyways, thats just my reading (very quick reading) of this whole sordid affair!

 

Mailman

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Mailmannz, I think you are exactly right.

 

This was not a case about whether bank charges are lawful or not - but a case about whether someone could claim additional damages (aggravated or exemplary) on top of that.

 

The law in this area seems to be a total mess, but as I read the judgment Tom simply failed to convince the judge that he had grounds for claiming such damages.

 

The fact that he lost does not represent a serious set back for those seeking to reclaim their bank charges, and doesn't really mean the banks have won.

 

As for all this criticism of the judge(s) involved I find that very distasteful.

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We have a government that will legislate on everything that isn't important to a large section of the electorate and ignore issues that are.

 

It shouldn't take the thwarted efforts of one individual to stand up to the Banks - legislation is needed.

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Yes, attacking the judge is distasteful, especially when people go on about conspiracy this or conspiracy that.

 

The fact is the judiciary has shown time and time again that they are completely and utterly independent of the Government.

 

Then again, I guess it just makes thing spicier if you can make a conspiracy out of nothing :)

 

Mailman

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The judge certainly seems to overestimate the OFT (who happily allowed this farce to continue for 20 years), but besides this he raised some very valid points. Tom had been paid in excess of the highest conceivable value of the specified parts of the claim, had not proved the unspecified parts, and since there was no longer a relationship between him and the bank any declaration would, from a judicial perspective, be nothing more than an end run around the OFT's action. Paragraph 36 of the judgment suggests that Tom may have missed a trick by not invoking s.32 Limitations Act by alleging concealment. Other than this, once everything else is stripped away, all that is left is the principle, and the courts are generally against cases proceeding on principle alone (para 56).

 

Ultimately, with the possible exception of the bank's decision to forcibly close his account, Tom's personal claim had already been satisfied. All in all, this isn't as bad as it might sound, since while we don't have the extra ammunition it doesn't adversely affect other individual claims in the slightest (the judge states several times that other similar cases still need to be decided on their individual merits).

 

Still, kudos to Tom for a valiant effort.

HSBCLloyds TSBcontractual interestNew Tax Creditscoming for you?NTL/Virgin Media

 

Never give in ... Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. Churchill, 1941

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I think that this, below, is something we should all be starting to elaborate on NOW so that by the time the baby kissing starts it's right in their faces

 

2. Its an election year - do people really vote for governments who allow banks to steal from them - we'll soon see.

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The judge certainly seems to overestimate the OFT (who happily allowed this farce to continue for 20 years)

Legally he is correct - OFT has a lot of responsibility in law for interpreting and enforcing the legislation and they have a statutory duty to do so.

 

The sad fact is that OFT (and other similar bodies) do not really perform their statutory duties in these areas. Perhaps we really ought to be seeking a review of their efficiency.

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Thank you all for your posts of support and encouragement.

 

I am, needless to say, incredibly disappointed at the judge's decision, and with the greatest of respect to Pitchford J., the judgment does not sit well with the authorities that were cited. I have been updating my site www.tombrennan.co.uk, which I hope to have completed by the end of tomorrow (Wednesday 5th December). Once it is finished, you will be able to see the reasoning and legal support for the basis of my claim in tort (breach of statutory duty), and the adverse consequences that stem from this ruling.

 

Regardless of the outcome, I still believe it was right to bring this case, and I can only apologise for not having been more succesful.

Needless to say, this ruling won't be the last chapter of the fight against unfair and unlawful business practices by the banking industry.

 

I would just like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to crfx250, who has been unswerving and exceptionally generous in his support for me throughout this case. Without his help, I would have had to abandon this case a long time ago, and would now be bankrupt, having lost in excess of £7,000 as a result of the judge's decision. crfx250 may not have been the public face of this particular battle, but he ws certainly the driving force behind it. Thanks chap - I am forever in your debt.

 

Best of luck with all your attempts to get back your money from the banks, and let's hope that the OFT, the FSA or the Government take the appropriate steps to prevent these unfair and unlawful practices from continuing.

 

Tom Brennan

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Tom

 

All I can say is thank you for being there when I needed it, and I hope I was some help in helping you keep your sanity (as was everybody else here on CAG)

Sad that it didnt go to plan for you - but maybe your case was the one pushed the OFT into getting off their backsides to do something....

 

I really do hope that what ever comes your way in the future, you'll do with the same determination that you did for the bank charges

 

Cheers

 

Kevin

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  • 3 months later...

Huge congratulations to Tom who is starting his new job on Monday. He quit his previous position some time ago to concentrate on his case with Natwest and losing it didn't help his employment prospects one bit.

 

He'll be an employed barrister with FSI, a large London law firm who I suspect are not entirely unfamiliar to CAG.

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