Ein judgment against Commerzbank last week reminded that a central question for the German financial system remains unresolved: Were the negative interest rates that Germany’s banks and savings banks have been charging since 2014 even legal? The former federal constitutional judge Paul Kirchhof even discussed constitutional concerns in his book “Money in the wake of negative interest rates”. Below this level, however, several lawsuits and appeals against specific clauses of individual institutions on negative interest rates, custody fees and credit card fees are still pending – and consumer advocates believe that the Federal Court of Justice will have to finally clarify this question.
It’s about millions of euros in negative interest that Germany’s banks and savings banks have levied over the past eight years – and for which damages could possibly be demanded if the clauses used should not last. In the meantime, the vast majority of banks have abolished their negative interest rates as part of the interest rate turnaround by the European Central Bank (ECB). The Internet platform Verivox comes to 27 banks, for which there is still negative interest in the price list, but in some cases only as a deterrent for very large amounts. At the height of the negative interest era, on the other hand, according to Verivox, 455 banks and savings banks in Germany demanded negative interest from their customers. It is noteworthy that the question of their legality will only be finally clarified long after the end of negative interest rates. According to reports, some banks were at least discussing whether better provisions should not be made for the worst case scenario.