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MSE hires top QC to continue bank charges battle

Guy Anker
Managing Editor
27 November 2009

MoneySavingExpert.com has today arranged for a top barrister, Ray Cox QC, to redraft its bank charges template letters to help breathe life back into the reclaiming campaign.

This follows this week's Supreme Court win for current account providers on fees.

We have engaged Ray Cox QC (see biography) and Mr Giles Wheeler (see biography), both barristers at Fountain Courts Chamber, Temple.

This is being done via the Govan Law centre, run by campaigning solicitor Mike Dailly, to look at the new legal arguments for consumers reclaiming their cash (see Martin's Bank Charges New Argument guide).

Banks are already making moves to dismiss claims after they won the test case appeal on Wednesday, which shows it will still be a struggle to get your money back. Today, Lloyds Banking Group (which includes Lloyds TSB, Halifax and Bank of Scotland) said it will ask the County and Sheriff Courts to strike out any claims on hold.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "There are millions of people with cases on hold, and the Office of Fair Trading won't be giving its view until December. Meanwhile, the banks are already starting to apply to have cases kicked out of court.

"We hope to put the brakes on this by drafting amended documents which people reclaiming can submit to the court based on the latest ruling.

"The Supreme Court itself noted that the question of fairness could still be looked at under the now infamous 'Regulation 5' of the UTCCR regulations and that's exactly the route we will be attacking.

"It will be interesting to see how the banks react to what we hope will be the Rolls-Royce of template letters – drafted by a QC who has led many cases for the banks themselves.

"We may even return to a situation of goodwill payments in the interim as they wait to expand their arguments, so as not to risk a precedent setting decision against them.

"While we're under no illusions of the difficulty of the task, and don't want any reclaimers to bank on getting their money back, this does mean the campaign's back on and the banks need to watch in their rear view mirrors."

Solicitor Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre says: "We're delighted to be working with MoneySavingExpert.com on what is perhaps one of the biggest rescue operations in recent UK consumer history.

"Rumours of the demise of the unfair bank charges campaign have been greatly exaggerated by the banks. The Supreme Court gave a very clear message that bank charges could still be unfair under Regulation 5, and so a brand new right to reclaim will shortly be available to consumers on the authority of no less than the Supreme Court itself."

The template letters and legal advice should be available within the next two weeks via the Free weekly email and via the other free campaigning sites including the Consumer Action Group, Penalty Charges and Legal Beagles. The trio will also contribute to the process.

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