Home > Complaint Case Studies > I Won My Bank Charge Case: A Case Study

I Won My Bank Charge Case: A Case Study

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 23 Apr 2010 |
Banks Charges Financial Hardship Test

Before the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the banks in the test case in November 2009, many people used to write to the bank stating that their charges were unfair with the reasons why, and asking for their charges to be refunded. In most cases, where the customer threatened to take their case to the Financial Ombudsman or to court, their charges would be refunded almost immediately.

After the test case however, claiming back charges has become much harder and it is expected (although wrongly) that you can never win a case. This case study shows that some people, like Martin, can still manage to claim their charges back.

Financial Circumstances Changed

Martin banked with the Royal bank of Scotland for about 12 years without any problems. However, when he was made redundant in May 2009, he started to get into debt and began to incur bank charges for unpaid bills and going over overdraft limits. By August 2009, he was still unemployed and decided to begin a claim.

Hardship Claim

Martin wrote to the bank describing his hardship situation and claiming that the charges were unfair. He claimed that he was due a refund of £2136.15 in charges. Martin heard nothing for several weeks so he decided to write again. It was this time that the bank sent him a form to fill in about his hardship situation. This is now a guideline by the Financial Ombudsman for the banks to follow, in cases where people are suffering from financial hardship rather than claiming that the charges were illegal.

The form contained spaces to answer questions about income, expenditure, debts and his entire financial situation, and asked him to attach evidence of such hardship. Several weeks after he returned the form, he got a letter from the bank to say they hadn't received it and couldn't consider his case without it, but they didn't include another form. Luckily Martin had copied every document and all correspondence between himself and the bank. Therefore he was able to fire back a copy immediately and this time, sent it by recorded delivery so that the bank would most certainly receive it. The court ruling in the banks favour in the mean time led Martin to think he had ‘missed the boat’ where claiming back charges was concerned and didn’t expect to win a penny.


Martin was surprised when he opened his mail in December 2009, almost two months later and found that the bank had accepted his claim and refunded some of the charges. It was not the full amount he asked for, but it was £1775.00 and much more than he hoped for after the court ruling. He decided to accept the cash, which helped him to clear his most pressing credit card debt and even have a bit left over for Christmas.

Top Tips

Always scan or photocopy everything and post by recorded delivery. It helps you to dodge any stalling tactics employed by companies you are dealing with and can help if the case ever reaches court.

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