Consumers: Consumer advocates: another milestone for premium savers

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has specified its case law on additional interest payments for premium savers and made further specifications.

Consumers: Consumer advocates: another milestone for premium savers

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has specified its case law on additional interest payments for premium savers and made further specifications. The highest German civil judges ruled on Tuesday about a new model lawsuit by the consumer center in Saxony. This tries to enforce customer claims against several savings banks.

Many premium savings contracts entered into in the 1990s and 2000s contained an illegal clause. Savings bank customers in particular could have missed out on thousands of euros in interest, but Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks are also affected. The clauses entitle the banks to adjust the interest rate unilaterally and largely freely. That is not possible, the BGH had already decided in previous judgments.

In the present case of the Sparkasse Vogtland, the BGH referred the matter back to the OLG Dresden, which is to determine the reference interest rate that is decisive for the exact calculation of the claims with expert help. In order to speed up the procedure, the court can fall back on an expert opinion from another procedure. In addition, the BGH ruled that the interest rate adjustments should be made while maintaining the initial relative difference between the contractual interest rate and the reference interest rate (ratio method).

The consumer center sees another stage victory for premium savers: "The trend is towards consumers," said their legal expert Michael Hummel. The BGH lawyer for the Sparkasse, on the other hand, saw "nothing new in the matter" in the judgment.

The lawsuit was largely identical to a case decided by the Federal Court of Justice in October 2021. Even then, the judges had given savers tailwind for additional claims. The BGH has received around 20 lawsuits relating to the complex.

It is true that not every saver whose contract contains such an inadmissible clause automatically received less interest than he was entitled to. In many cases, however, this is the case; Very few customers would have gotten their money back, according to consumer advocates. On average, according to their calculation, savers could have been paid out too little by around 2,500 euros. In view of the 1.2 million contracts nationwide, damage of around three billion euros could have occurred.

Consumer advocates accuse the savings banks of playing for time. They are therefore exerting pressure with model declaratory actions. Because many savings contracts have expired or have been terminated. This threatened to make customer claims statute-barred. The consumer advice center in Saxony alone represents nine procedures that 6,000 consumers have joined.

Anyone who has not participated in a model lawsuit must put pressure on the bank themselves and, if necessary, enforce additional payments in court. Some of the model plaintiffs also still have to conduct follow-up lawsuits.

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