Office of Fair Trading v Abbey National Plc and seven Others: ComC 24 Apr 2008

The Office sought a declaration that the respondent and other banks were subject to the provisions of the Regulations in their imposition of bank charges to customer accounts, and in particular as to the imposition of penalties or charges for the breach of the overdraft limits.
Held: The relevant terms were not exempt from assessment under the 1999 Regulations. None of the terms failed as penalties at common law, and nor would the application of the Regulations disapply any protection given by common law. The Regulations should be read in a purposive way, and the exemptions did not save the Banks’ terms from being caught by the Regulations. In declining to provide an overdraft the banks were not providing a service. However: ‘the Banks supply to current account customers services within the meaning of the 1999 Regulations when they pay in accordance with a payment instruction regardless of whether it is a Relevant Instruction and involves the Bank in carrying out additional procedures and when they operate the running account with a debit balance, that is to say, when they allow borrowing on the account, regardless of whether the borrowing is by way of an unarranged overdraft. However, this does not mean that it is irrelevant to the application of Regulation 6(2)(b) that charges are levied for carrying out payment instructions and allowing borrowing only when the instructions are Relevant Instructions and the borrowing is by way of unarranged overdraft.’

Andrew Smith J
[2008] EWHC 875 (Comm), Times 29-Apr-2008, Gazette 08-May-2005, [2008] 2 All ER (Comm) 625
Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, Enterprise Act 2002 213(1)
England and Wales
CitedLondon Borough of Newham v Khatun, Zeb and Iqbal CA 24-Feb-2004
The council made offers of accommodation which were rejected as inappropriate by the proposed tenants.
Held: The council was given a responsibility to act reasonably. It was for them, not the court to make that assessment subject only to . .
CitedDirector General of Fair Trading v First National Bank HL 25-Oct-2001
The House was asked whether a contractual provision for interest to run after judgment as well as before in a consumer credit contract led to an unfair relationship.
Held: The term was not covered by the Act, and was not unfair under the . .
CitedJoachimson v Swiss Bank Corporation CA 1921
The service of the order nisi binds the debt in the hands of the garnishee – that is, it creates a charge in favour of the judgment creditor. No cause of action for non payment arises in respect of money standing on a current account until the . .
CitedSocimer International Bank Ltd v Standard Bank London Ltd CA 22-Feb-2008
Rix LJ considered the restraints operating a party to a contract in exercising any discretion gien under it, preferring the use of the term ‘irrationality’ to ‘unreasonableness’: ‘It is plain from these authorities that a decision-maker’s discretion . .
MentionedLymington Marina Ltd v MacNamara and others CA 2-Mar-2007
A share in a marina had been inherited by one brother whose application to grant successive sub-lcences of it to the other two was rejected by the marina, who said that this was not permitted. The marina appealed a finding that it had to make its . .
CitedWestminster Bank Ltd v Hilton HL 1926
As against the money of the customer’s in the banker’s hands the relationship between banker and customer is that of principal and agent.
Lord Atkinson said: ‘It is well established that the normal relation between a banker and his customer . .
CitedBank of New South Wales v Laing 1954
A bank is not under an obligation to lend to a current account customer or to allow him overdraft facilities unless it has agreed to do so. . .
CitedEasycar (UK) Ltd v Office of Fair Trading ECJ 10-Mar-2005
The claimant was a self drive car hire company taking bookings over the internet. Its terms refused a refund on cancellation save in special circumstances. The OFT said these terms infringed the regulations. The claimant said their contracts were . .
CitedRolls Razor Ltd v Cox CA 1967
Winn LJ said: ‘the relationship of banker and customer upon a current account implies from its very nature an intention on the part of both parties that debits and credits arising between them shall be brought into a running account on which by . .
CitedBairstow Eves London Central Ltd v Smith and Another QBD 20-Feb-2004
. .
CitedEmerald Meats (London) Ltd v AIB Group (UK) Plc CA 12-Apr-2002
The claimant appealed a finding that it had not been overcharged interest by the respondent. The account was overdrawn. They claimed that on each occasion when a cheque was paid into the account, the bank had charged a day’s extra interest before . .
CitedBarclays Bank v WJ Simms and Cooke (Southern) Ltd QBD 1979
The customer made out a cheque to pay his builder, but countermanded it. The bank paid the cheque when it was presented by mistake, and now sought repayment from the builder.
Held: The bank succeeded. The court discussed the extent of a . .
CitedLloyds Bank Plc v Independent Insurance Co Ltd CA 26-Nov-1998
The bank had made an electronic transfer of funds for a customer in satisfaction of that customer’s proper debt, but it was done under a mistake of fact as to the cleared status of funds received.
Held: The appeal was turned down. The bank was . .
CitedAbu Dhabi National Tanker Co v Product Star Shipping Ltd (No 2) CA 1993
Where parties enter into a contract which confers a discretion on one of them, the discretion must be exercised honestly and in good faith, and not ‘arbitrarily, capriciously or unreasonably’. The owner had acted unreasonably in that there was no . .
CitedIn re Charge Card Services Ltd ChD 1987
The court discussed the historic availability of set-off in an insolvency: ‘By the turn of the [20th] century, therefore, the authorities showed that debts whose existence and amount were alike contingent at the date of the receiving order, and . .
CitedHeininger v Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank AG ECJ 13-Dec-2001
ECJ Consumer protection – Doorstep selling – Right of cancellation – Agreement to grant credit secured by charge on immovable property. . .
CitedParagon Finance plc v Nash etc CA 15-Oct-2001
The court was asked to consider whether there was any implied term limiting the power of a mortgagee to set interest rates under a variable rate mortgage.
Held: A loan arrangement which allowed a lender to vary the implied rate of interest, . .
CitedCommission v Netherlands C-144/99 ECJ 10-May-2001
ECJ Failure by a Member State to fulfil its obligations – Directive 93/13/EEC – Unfair terms in consumer contracts – Incomplete transposition of the directive into national law. As to the applicable principles in . .
CitedLidl Belgium GmbH and Co KG v Etablissementen Franz Colruyt NV ECJ 19-Sep-2006
ECJ (Approximation of Laws) – Directives 84/450/EEC and 97/55/EC – Misleading advertising – Comparative advertising – Conditions under which comparative advertising is permitted – Comparison of the general level . .
CitedBaybut v Eccle Riggs Country Park Ltd ChD 2-Nov-2006
The purchaser of a caravan park purported to terminate the 10 year licences under which the owners of the various caravans occupied their respective pitches. The sale agreement of the caravan site had contained a covenant by the purchaser with the . .
CitedThe County Homesearch Company (Thames and Chilterns) Ltd v Cowham CA 31-Jan-2008
The defendants contracted to pay estate agents to find them a house. They completed the purchase of a property mentioned to them three times by the agent, but now appealed from a finding that they were obliged to pay his commission. The judge found . .
CitedDublin Port and Docks Board v Bank of Ireland 22-Jul-1976
(Supreme Court of Ireland) The court discussed a bank’s obligation to process cheques issued by its customers: ‘a banker should pay his customers’ cheques in the order in which they are presented, subject to the interest of the customer being taken . .
CitedExport Credits Guarantee Department v Universal Oil Products HL 1983
A contract provided for the payment of a stated sum by one party to the contract (A) to the other party (B) in the event of the non-performance by A of one of more contractual obligations owed by A not to B himself but to C, who was not a party to . .
CitedJoseph Constantine SS Line Ltd v Imperial Smelting Corp Ltd 1942
Before a court, he who asserts something must must prove it: ‘Ei qui affirmat non ei qui negat incumbit probatio’
Lord Wight discussed the question of whether there had been ‘a vital change of the law . . Operating on the circumstances.’ . .
CitedRegina (Factortame Ltd and Others) v Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (No 8) CA 3-Jul-2002
A firm of accountants had agreed to provide their services as experts in a case on the basis that they would be paid by taking part of any damages awarded. The respondent claimed that such an agreement was champertous and unlawful.
Held: The . .
CitedJeancharm Ltd (T/A Beaver International) v Barnet Football Club Ltd CA 16-Jan-2002
The claimant contracted to supply football shirts to the defendant, but claimed that clauses in the contract with regards to late delivery and payment operated as penalties and so were void at common law.
Held: The sums set out were immodest . .
CitedSkillion pIc v Keltec Industrial Research Ltd 1992
In the context of a covenant in a lease restricting the tenant’s use of the demised premises, it is the landlord who requires and puts forward the clause, and, the landlord will be treated as the proposer and the clause must therefore be construed . .
CitedPhilip Bernstein (Successors) Ltd v Lydiate Textiles Ltd; orse Sterling Industrial Facilities v Lydiate Textiles Ltd CA 26-Jun-1962
Lord Justice Diplock: ‘. . the ordinary rule which the courts apply is that contracts should be enforced, pacta sunt servanda, unless they can be brought within that limited category of cases in which, for reasons of public policy, the court refuses . .
CitedShamsher Jute Mills Ltd v Sethia (London) Ltd 1987
The plaintiff sold goods to the defendant under the protection of a letter of credit. The plaintiff did not himself provide approriate documentation to claim under the letter of credit, and the banker did not pay.
Held: The plaintiffs were the . .
CitedFaaborg-Gelting Linien v Finanzamt Flensburg ECJ 2-May-1996
A non-takeaway restaurant is a supply of services, and a ferry supply was made from its place of business. The supply of prepared food and drink at a restaurant resulted from a whole series of services (including the preparation and service of the . .
CitedCofidis SA v Jean-Louis Fredout ECJ 21-Nov-2002
ECJ Directive 93/13/EEC – Unfair terms in consumer contracts – Action brought by a seller or supplier – National provision prohibiting the national court from finding a term unfair, of its own motion or following . .
CitedHer Majesty’s Customs and Excise v Gerhart Schindler and Jorg Schindler ECJ 24-Mar-1994
Europa The importation of lottery advertisements and tickets into a Member State with a view to the participation by residents of that State in a lottery conducted in another Member State relates to a ‘service’ . .
CitedWire TV Limited v Cabletel (UK) Limited CA 30-Jul-1997
When construing an agreement which is not a sham, the court should recognise that the parties might have a choice as to how a contract is structured and pay appropriate respect to the structure adopted by the parties. . .
CitedDomsalla (T/A Domsalla Building Services) v Dyason TCC 4-May-2007
A consumer has no grounds for complaining about the construction adjudication process per se under the Regulations . .
CitedBryen and Langley Ltd v Boston CA 29-Jul-2005
The special facts surrounding the agreement of the standard term at issue were such that the court held that it could not possibly say that there had been a breach of the principle of fair dealing and that rendered it unnecessary for the court to . .
CitedLloyds Bank plc v Voller 2002
. .

Cited by:
CitedOffice of Fair Trading v Foxtons Ltd ChD 17-Jul-2008
Complaint was made that the Foxtons standard terms of acting in residential lettings were unfair. Foxtons objected to the jurisdiction of the Claimant to intervene.
Held: On a challenge to an individual contract, the court would be able to see . .
See AlsoOffice of Fair Trading v Abbey National Plc and others ComC 8-Oct-2008
The director sought a further judgment as to whether charges imposed by banks on a customer taking an unauthorised overdraft, and otherwise were unlawful penalties. . .
Appeal fromAbbey National Plc and others v The Office of Fair Trading CA 26-Feb-2009
The OFT had sought to enquire as to the fairness of the terms on which banks conducted their accounts with consumers, and in particular as to how they charged for unauthorised overdrafts. The banks denied that the OFT had jurisdiction, and now . .
See alsoOffice of Fair Trading v Abbey National Plc and others ComC 21-Jan-2009
. .
At First InstanceOffice of Fair Trading (OFT) v Abbey National Plc and Others SC 25-Nov-2009
The banks appealed against a ruling that the OFT could investigate the fairness or otherwise of their systems for charging bank customers for non-agreed items as excessive relative to the services supplied. The banks said that regulation 6(2) could . .
CitedCavendish Square Holding Bv v Talal El Makdessi; ParkingEye Ltd v Beavis SC 4-Nov-2015
The court reconsidered the law relating to penalty clauses in contracts. The first appeal, Cavendish Square Holding BV v Talal El Makdessi, raised the issue in relation to two clauses in a substantial commercial contract. The second appeal, . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Banking, Consumer

Updated: 11 November 2021; Ref: scu.267090