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OFT Test Case – Latest News 11 January 2008
Test case scheduled to start on Wednesday 16 January in small room with virtually no space for press or public

On Wednesday 16 January, the OFT and Britain's high street banks are due to meet in a High Court battle which will decide whether or not the banks are operating an unlawful charging regime. The case is of great public interest as it could result in the banks having to repay 20 billion or more to about 10 million customers. It has now been revealed that the case will be heard in a room at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street and that there will be space for precisely 11 members of the press and the public. A spokesperson for the centre said that entry will be on a first come first served basis but that the space will be divided roughly equally between the press and the public; and passes will be issued separately for morning and afternoon sessions. This means that, at most, 6 members of the public will be able to attend and no-one will be able to attend a full day. It will be impossible, therefore, for any one person to obtain a complete picture of the proceedings. It will also mean that many newspaper and television/radio reporters will excluded.

A spokesperson for the OFT claimed today that he "did not realise that the room would only hold this number of people".

Bob says, "This case is a great embarrassment to the OFT. It has exposed the institutional weakness within the OFT where it is effective at curbing unlawful behaviour by small businesses, but it does not have the stomach for a fight against the big corporations like the banks. By holding the case in such a small room, no member of the public will be able to sit through the whole case; and much of Britain's media will be excluded. The OFT is no doubt hoping that the case will receive little press coverage and that it will all quietly fizzle out. However, I and the many other campaigners will ensure that this issue does not die. We will continue to fight the banks over this issue whatever the outcome of a meeting in a tiny room in London."

For background to OFT test case, see Test case

For details of the venue, see www.idrc.co.uk

For other news stories, see News

Published and promoted by Bob Egerton, TR2 4RS