BCR, slammed by the courts in a class action lawsuit over abusive lending clauses

20 nov. 2017 English Section
E.O. (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
BCR, slammed by the courts in a class action lawsuit over abusive lending clauses

BCR: "Ongoing contracts no longer contain the clauses that have been subjected to examination" 

Sources: "ANPC has 6 lawsuits against BCR, which will lead to enormous losses for Erste Bank if BCR loses in court"

After forcing Raiffeisen Bank to eliminate the unfair practices from the loan agreements, the National Consumer Protection Authority (ANPC) strikes again, this time the biggest bank in the system. BCR lost in the court of first instance, against the ANPC, in a class action lawsuit concerning abusive lending clauses.

According to the available information, the clauses which the County Court of Bucharest identified as abusive concern the variable interest rate and the maintenance fees paid by borrowers. If the ANPC also wins this lawsuit in the final instance, then the bank will be forced to amend all the similar loan agreements, as the court ruling will apply erga omnes.

According to the portal of the court, the County Court has found the abusive nature of the aforementioned contractual clauses, requiring the bank "to amend all the ongoing contracts of adhesion, as well as eliminate all the abusive clauses mentioned in the pre-written contracts, meant to be used in the professional operation. BCR has the right to appeal within 15 days from the notification, as the ruling is not final.

The bank's representatives told us that "the decision of the Court is essentially not currently relevant", because the ongoing contracts no longer include the clauses which were the object of the lawsuit. "We did the right thing and we took active steps for the benefit of our customers. Over 200,000 customers have benefited from low borrowing costs. Moreover, the ongoing contracts no longer contain the clauses which were examined, meaning that the ruling of the court is essentially no longer relevant. But even in such a situation, there are solid legal arguments for the court to rule in favor of the bank, when it comes to the fairness of the contracts".

The Romanian Commercial Bank (BCR) made a net profit of 559.8 million lei (123 million Euros), in the first nine months of the current year, over 50% lower over 2016, 1.14 billion lei (255.4 million Euros).

According to a press release of the bank, the drop was caused mostly by "the basic effect resulting from the substantial reprises of risk provisions and from the booking of consistent stake revenues in the first nine months of 2016".

Sources close to the situation told us that the ANPC and BCR have six ongoing lawsuits. "If BCR loses those lawsuits, Erste Bank will suffer huge losses", the quoted sources told us.

The Consumer Protection Authority (ANPC) has also won other lawsuits erga omnes in first instance which it had ongoing with other banks. The ANPC had a favorable final ruling in a lawsuit against OTP Bank, with currently over 50 collective class action lawsuits brought against Romanian banks.

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