Customers deposit anger after anti-bank judgment

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The Independent Online
NIC CICUTTI

Hundreds of callers laid siege to the telephone lines of anti-bank campaigners yesterday following the High Court judgment on Monday against Lloyds Bank.

Allegations of bad advice, hard-nose tactics and other financial improprieties, including fraud, were among the litany of complaints against all high street banks.

Despite the pounds 77,500 damages award to Julia Verity and Richard Spindler, the couple who sued Lloyds for negligent advice, campaigners warned that the legal road against banks might be too rocky for many.

Pat Griffiths, co-ordinator of the Banking Action Group, which the couple belonged to, said: "The phones have not stopped ringing. People are calling with all sorts of complaints against banks. Many of them don't involve them suing the banks though, but the other way round.

"In some ways, I feel a sense of disappointment about the judgment. It was a legal one-off and the couple only got a small proportion of what they were claiming.

"Generally, what happens is that the banks will fight you every inch of the way. One case, which was resolved recently, took nine years to come to court and the bank only settled on the court steps. They always insist on a confidentiality clause.

"The problem is that it takes an awful lot to sue a bank. You have to find an expert in commercial law. The chances are that what starts out as a claim against a bank could turn out as a claim for professional negligence against a lawyer."

But Ms Griffiths, whose organisation is based in Surrey, added: "What we are going to see is that people are learning more and gradually people will demand better standards from all banks. To be fair to them, they have improved a lot in the past three years."

Eddy Weatherill, chief executive of the Huntingdon-based Independent Banking Advisory Service, said his group had also been swamped with calls.

"I had been expecting a lot of calls from people who had already been in touch with us. What we have been receiving is calls from totally new people. Their complaints range from allegations of bad advice, to wondering what their legal position might be if their businesses did go under.

"Others want to know which of the high street banks are the least worst, or they say that they have suddenly realised they had to be more careful," he added.

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