During the hearing, the deputy chairman of the eleventh civil senate, Christian Grüneberg, indicated that the Federal Court of Justice could decide in favor of the consumer advocates and overturn the fee. As early as 2017, the BGH had banned account management fees in the loan phase of a home savings contract.
On Tuesday it was all about the savings phase. Home savings contracts consist of two phases: the savings phase, in which capital is saved, and the subsequent loan phase. As soon as an agreed minimum amount has been saved and the other requirements have been met, the contract is ready for allocation. The customer is then entitled to a loan on previously agreed terms.
For the time being, Grüneberg did not assess the account management in the savings phase as the main service of the building society for which it could charge fees. Rather, their main service in this phase is the payment of interest on the customer's capital.
The lawyer for the consumer centers countered that a closing fee was already due when the contract was concluded and that the building society also paid relatively low interest on the capital saved. With an annual fee, she is also trying to pass on operating and administrative costs to the customers.
In the lower courts at the Hanover Regional Court and the Celle Higher Regional Court, the lawsuit brought by consumer advocates was successful. The Bausparkasse appealed against these decisions before the BGH.
In another case, the district court and the higher regional court in Koblenz had already ruled in 2018 and 2019 that a subsequently introduced annual flat rate for existing home savings contracts is inadmissible. The judgment of the Higher Regional Court is now final.