Australian bank wins appeal against court decision that credit card late fees were unlawful

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's ANZ Banking Group Ltd. has won an appeal against a court decision that late payment fees charged on credit cards were exorbitant and unlawful.

The Federal Court on Wednesday unanimously overturned a decision by Justice Michelle Gordon in February last year that ANZ had been illegally imposing penalties for late payments on credit cards.

Gordon's ruling meant one of Australia's largest banks was liable for a multimillion dollar payout to thousands of customers.

A lawyer representing customers in the class action law suit, Andrew Watson, said Wednesday's decision will be appealed in the High Court.

"We're still digesting the details of what is a very large decision, but based on what we've read, we think there are grounds for appeal," Watson told reporters.

The case was the first of eight planned class action law suits involving 185,300 customers of Australian banks, claiming 243 million Australian dollars ($186 million) in damages.

ANZ late fees on credit cards ranged from AU$20 to AU$35. The actual cost of administering such late payments was mostly 50 AU cents and sometimes up to AU$5.50.

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