Romanian government refuses to prolong protection for banks against collective trials

By bne IntelliNews September 26, 2013

Romania’s government has decided not to delay again the enforcement of a clause in the Civil Code that allows consumer protection groups to start collective trials against services providers, including banks, Ziarul Financiar daily announced. There will be no further postponement, PM Victor Ponta confirmed.

The government was expected to take such a step under pressure by the central bank after the executive first postponed the enforcement of the clause in February and then in June again. Collective trials against banks can start as of October.

Banks wants not only to postpone the enforcement of the clauses, but also to stipulate in the law that the collective trials against them can be challenged at the highest court of appeal – as an exception to the regular procedures under which the rulings can be appealed at the local courts of appeal. The government actually pledged, under the latest LoI sent to the IMF, that it would pursue efforts to have such trials judged only by a group of trained judges in order to achieve consistent implementation of the legislation.

Collective processes against banks and the subsequent cancellation of illegal clauses in the lending contracts could cost the banks RON 5bn [EUR 1.1bn], the central bank has estimated in a report earlier this year. Banks estimate cost might be double, including compensations – and not only future effects of the cancellation of the clauses.

Most of the illegal [abusive] clauses in the lending contracts are related to the way the interest rate is adjusted in time and to various fees charged by banks. Commercial banks had to adjust the lending contracts to the EU directives under the government’s ordinance 50/2010, but this triggered a series of trials initiated by their customers.

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