Personal Finances
27th July 2007


The Consumer Council welcomes the announcement that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will take a test case in the High Court against eight UK banks and building societies. This test case will establish whether or not the charges placed on bank customers’ accounts for straying into the red are legal and fair.

Steve Costello, Chairman of the Consumer Council, said:

“The Consumer Council called on the OFT to investigate unfair penalty charges in August 2006.  Today’s announcement is a significant and long awaited step.    When the judgement is made consumers will know the cost of a fair charge and will be able claim back the money, with legal certainty, if they have been overcharged.  To date, we have helped 120 customers challenge their bank and get more than £120,000 in refunds.

“Until this test case is resolved, banks can put on hold any complaints about the fairness of unauthorised overdraft charges.   Those bank customers currently challenging their bank should not despair, when the court makes a decision they can be confident of getting all that they are entitled to.  

“The OFT is having to take this step because the banks have been unable to demonstrate to their customers that their charges are fair.  The Consumer Council welcomes the voluntary involvement of the banks to bring clarity on this issue for their customers.  This test case must be resolved as quickly as possible for the consumers who have and will continue to pay unfair charges.  This is not a win or lose situation – it is about getting a fair deal for all bank customers. “

The Consumer Council has worked tirelessly over the past three years to represent Northern Ireland bank customers and we will continue to make their voice heard throughout this process.

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Gráinne Duffy, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or e-mail, [email protected].  
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
  3. For more information, visit our website at

If you want to know what this means for you and for more information on the test case log onto: