Czech Constitutional Court rejects complaint about bank fees


15.04.2014 10:14

Brno - The Czech Constitutional Court (US) dismissed today a complaint by a woman who wanted the Ceska sporitelna (CS) bank to return her the fees she paid for a credit.


Ústavní soud v Brně - ilustrační foto. ČTK Šálek Václav

The US has received more than 100 such complaints. Today´s verdict is the first and it should serve as a guideline in further decision-making on bank fees.

The court did not deal with the "policy" of bank fees as a whole, but it rather checked fundamental human rights observance in the particular case.

It released its extensive decision on the Internet.

The US concluded that the possible unification of verdicts in disputes over fees rather rests with the Supreme Court (NS). It also pointed to the free will of both parties in signing credit contracts. The relationship between the bank and the client is not a relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, the US said.

The judges pointed to an alleged public campaign aimed to turn the fees into a big and watched cause.

The verdict says the US´s intervention could be considered in a situation where one party to the relationship would unilaterally determine contractual conditions, which the other party would be obliged to accept.

"But this is not so in this case," says the verdict.

Banks have received more than 300,000 applications for the return of mortgage or consumer credit fees since last year.

Courts have ruled in favour of banks in most cases to date. That is why the clients pinned their hopes on the US verdict. The session room was full up.

In the pilot case the US was dealing with a complaint by a woman who demanded CS to return her 7200 crowns. She signed a credit contract in 2007, on the basis of which CS charged her 150 crowns monthly for the credit management. The woman said this was unsubstantiated enrichment.

She wrote in her complaint that CS did not convincingly explain what services it provides for the fee, which makes the agreement invalid because it is vague and incomprehensible. The woman also said the agreement is at variance with good morals and that there is a big imbalance between the rights and duties of the contractual parties.

The net profits of domestic banks from fees dropped by 240 million crowns to 37.04 billion crowns last year and they were the lowest from 2009, but still four billion crowns higher than in 2006.

The banks collected almost 50 billion crowns gross in fees and commissions last year.

The data ensuing from the central bank´s (CNB) statistics have been recently pointed out by server.

Banks have won a majority of lawsuits, yet many of them have abolished the fees even though they say they are not at variance with laws and that clients always know the conditions beforehand.

($1=19.861 crowns)

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