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Banks win latest stage of charges case

Banks' overdraft fees should not be challenged by customers through common law for most cases, a High Court judge has said.Mr Justice Andrew Smith announced his decision after a three-day hearing in July, part of the penalty fees case involving seven banks, a building society and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).The test case is to decide whether or not the OFT can rule on the fairness of the charges.Therefore, the latest decision is a blow for the thousands of customers currently hoping to claim the £35 penalties back from their bank.Consumer groups have previously said that the penalty charges - which are levied for minor offences such as breaching overdraft limits - are unfairly high."Some banks will be breathing a sigh of relief as the judge appears to have decided that these charges were not penalties under common law," Marc Gander of the Consumer Action Group told the BBC.Mr Justice Smith is due to deliver his final ruling on the charges in the New Year.

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