GGood news for Commerzbank customers who had to pay a custody fee (negative interest) of 0.5 percent on savings balances of 250,000 euros or more until July 2022: The Frankfurt Regional Court has the basis on which Commerzbank, according to information from the FAZ, has taken a single-digit million amount , declared invalid on Friday. With the penalty interest clauses, the bank passed on its own operating costs “without any real consideration” to the customers via a “hidden and easily overlooked footnote”, the court justified its decision.
In addition to the violation of the transparency requirement by Commerzbank, the judges complained that negative interest rates “contradict the legal model and are not part of the system”. After the European Central Bank levied negative interest on commercial bank savings deposited with it from 2014, the commercial banks looked for ways to pass these negative interest rates on to their customers.
However, they avoided the word “negative interest” and instead called the fees charged on large savings deposits “custody fees”. In the case of Commerzbank, however, the Frankfurt Regional Court ruled that the custody of the money was a logical consequence of the bank working with the money. The law does not assume a fee for custody. The judgment is not yet final and can be appealed (Ref.: 2-25 O 228/21). Commerzbank declined to comment until the reasons for the judgment are available.
The Hamburg consumer advice center, which had filed a complaint against the provisions in Commerzbank’s list of prices and services, can request a list of affected customers from the bank. In addition, the court obliged Commerzbank to inform customers charged with a custody fee that the clauses were ineffective.
If the judgment becomes final, Commerzbank customers will have a basis for claiming back negative interest that has been paid. The district courts of Berlin and Düsseldorf have already rejected the “custody fees” of Sparda-Bank Berlin and Volksbank Rhein-Lippe in the first instance.