OFT Test Case concludes on 8 February
The long awaited OFT/banks test case opened in London a day late because the judge was held up on another case. After the furore over the lack of seats for members of the public, a video link was arranged to another room in the same building, the International Dispute Resolution Centre in Fleet Street.
The barrister for Royal Bank of Scotland opened the batting for the banks. By the end of day 2 and apparently after some argy bargy about why the banks had to go first and the judge making comments about the bank's arguments, the same barrister was still talking. I would hope that the judge is starting to think "me thinks thou doth protest too much". It is difficult to see how a 2-day speech can be more effective than a pithy one hour outline of the bank's (admittedly tortuous) logic. But I suppose when you are being paid £1000 per hour, you can see the incentive to keep talking. By day 3, he was still talking.
On day 4, Barclays' barrister came into bat. Essentially, he is saying that whatever the banks do is unchallengeable by the courts!
On day 5, HSBC batted. On day 6, Nationwide's barrister had to suffer a googly from the OFT barrister. After Nationwide argued valiantly that going over the overdraft limit was not a breach of contract, Brian Doctor for the OFT pointed out that a Nationwide leaflet explicitly said that it was a breach of contract.
Later, Lloyds TSB ploughed the same furrow of provision of services rather than breach of contract.
On day 7 (Monday 28 January), HBOS, Abbey and Clydesdale put their cases.
Day 8, Tuesday 29 January, the OFT finally started their submission. According to a campaigner who has been present for all of the case so far, it was not exactly a Premier League performance with lots of hesitation and sometimes scrabbling around for papers. Hopefully, this will not affect the outcome!
On day 9, Wednesday 30 January, the OFT barrister seems to have put in a stronger performance, slamming the banks for the changes that they made to their terms and conditions in 2007 just to try to get round the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. These were "artificial notions", he said.
On day 10, Thursday 31 January, the OFT barrister ploughed through the detail of the banks' terms and conditions exposing discrepancies in wording and meanings. However, apparently, it was rather disjointed and the judge got exasperated many times.
Day 11, Monday 4 February. The first time that I have managed to get to the court myself, albeit only briefly in the middle of doing other things in London. Brian Doctor, OFT barrister, had what Nick Spooner of Legal Beagles described as his best day yet. He made good points on "plain intelligible language" and on common law penalties and he seemed to get a sympathetic response from the judge.
On day 12, the banks started their responses to the OFT arguments.
On day 13, the banks continued with their submissions contending that their terms were clear and understandable.
On day 14, Thursday 7 February, the parties started to wind up.
On day 15, Friday 8 February, the hearing finished early on Friday morning. The judge has said that he has no idea when he will reach his judgment. So we must wait and see!
For background on the test case, see:
For BBC reports, see Test case hearing closes, Claims will probably remain on hold, day 13, Claims could restart, day 12, Banks' "self serving propaganda" day 10, OFT slams banks day 9, OFT opens day 8, Nationwide, Lloyds day 6, Barclays day 4, RBS day 3, RBS day 2 and RBS day 1
For other news, see news stories
Published and promoted by Bob Egerton, TR2 4RS