A class action to get Australian banks to pay back credit card late fees is now heading to the High Court

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A class action against late payment fees charged by banks on credit cards is heading to the High Court after the ANZ bank won an appeal in the Federal Court.

The Full Bench today overturned a court decision last year which said late payment fees on credit cards of between $20 and $45 were unlawful.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn has about 200,000 bank customers signed up for the class action, making it one of the largest in Australian legal history.

The case is about hundreds of millions of dollars gathered by Australian banks is late fees. A win in the High Court could see these fees reimbursed to credit card users.

Andrew Watson, Maurice Blackburn’s national head of class actions, says he will appeal today’s Federal Court ruling in the High Court.

“Obviously we are still digesting the details of what is a very large decision but based on what we’ve read we think there are grounds for appeal and we will be making an application for special leave of the High Court,” he said outside the court.

“It is perhaps appropriate that Australia’s largest consumer class action will ultimately be determined by Australia’s highest court and as a result of today’s decision that’s where we’re headed.”

The legal action is the first of a series of bank fee class cases against eight banks including Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, Westpac, Citibank, St George, Bank SA and BankWest.

ANZ CEO Australia Mark Whelan said the bank’s long standing position has been the fees are

“We were particularly pleased the Court found there was no dishonesty on ANZ’s part and these avoidable fees were fairly and fully disclosed and there was no lack of good faith by ANZ,” he said.

Shares in IMF Bentham Limited, an ASX-listed litigation funder, fell more than 5% to $1.95 following the court decision.

IMF Bentham said it will, pending the outcome of any appeal, write off $4 million and create a provision for adverse costs of about $1.5 million.

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