Banks had 'grudging' attitude to code

THE BANKS' attitude to the idea of a code of practice had shown 'suspicion, grudging acceptance or even sullen acquiescence', Professor Robert Jack said yesterday at a seminar in Cambridge.

Professor Jack chaired a review committee that led to the introduction this year of a voluntary code of practice. But the banks' first version had to be extensively rewritten after widespread objections from consumer bodies that it did not meet requirements.

Professor Jack said the consequence of the banks' negative view of a code was that preparation 'took on the appearance of the mills of God, grinding extremely slowly and exceeding small'.

Their attitude reminded him of the story about Moses returning from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and reporting: 'I have got Him down to 10, but I'm afraid the one about adultery is still in.'

One example of the banks' slowness to respond was their opposition to the code's provisions on phantom withdrawals from cash machines, where they fought to limit their liability by inserting conditions about negligence.

However, Professor Jack did see 'encouraging signs of increased competition among the banks in standards of fairness'.

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