Barrister loses NatWest bank charges court battle

Tom Brennan, the recently qualified barrister who sought to claim damages from NatWest Bank over unauthorised overdraft charges, was yesterday (30 July) told he could not continue proceedings.

In the City of London County Court, Judge Peter Simpson said Brennan had a very modest claim and that there is no prospect of success.

Brennan had argued that his case could be seen as a test case for hundreds of customers demanding refunds from their banks for penalty changes they had paid over the last six years.

Opposition, however, said that, as he was looking for damages in addition to a refund for charges, his position was distinctly different from other customers’.

The barrister had sought compensation for stress, the difficulty he had paying rent and purchasing essential items as well as exemplary damages. The latter are awarded if the defendant is deemed to have acted in a deliberate, malicious or negligent manner.

Simpson said: “Mr Brennan had a very modest claim, which had been fully satisfied. He’s seeking to enlarge the scope of this, but the additional actions of his case are contrived. The facts will not support them.

“There is no prospect of success and no other reasons why this should go to trial, in my judgement.”

Brennan said he will appeal the decision and accused the banks of attempting to avoid court adjudication by “forcing” money into people’s accounts by refunding charges.

“It seems any financial institutions can force money into an individual’s account and therefore excuse themselves from any court case,” he said.

The news comes just days after the Office of Fair Trading initiated proceedings against eight major banks, which agreed to go to the High Court to seek a legal decision on overdraft penalty charges (The Lawyer, 30 July).