Credit cards / Illegal fees for foreign currency conversion
In April 2003, Mr. Réal Marcotte filed a motion seeking authorization to institute a class action against the main Canadian banks as well as the Fédération des Caisses Desjardins du Québec alleging that they had illegally charged fees ranging from 1.8 to 2.5% for each transaction made in foreign currency with a credit card. The class action sought the reimbursement of these fees illegally charged to consumers as well as an award of punitive damages.
On July 5th 2004, Mr. Justice Israel S. Mass of the Superior Court authorized the class action against Desjardins. On May 19th 2006, Mr. Justice Clément Gascon, then of the Superior Court of Quebec, authorized the class action against the Banks. The actions were joined in 2008 because they raised many similar issues.
On June 11th 2009, following a 3-month trial, Mr. Justice Gascon rendered his judgement in favour of the plaintiffs and condemned the banks and Desjardins to reimburse consumers the illegally-charged fees.
The defendants appealed Mr. Justice Gascon’s decision and the hearing before the Court of Appeal was held in September 2011.
On August 2nd 2012, the Court of Appeal of Quebec rendered a decision in which it reduced the amount the Bank of Montreal, the National Bank and Citibank were condemned to pay, and reduced the recovery period for the Toronto-Dominion Bank. The Court of Appeal dismissed the action with regard to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Laurentian Bank, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Royal Bank and Amex Bank. The Court of Appeal equally overturned the award for punitive damages.
Having all lost at the Court of Appeal, the plaintiffs, the Banks as well as Desjardins, obtained leave to appeal from the Supreme Court of Canada. The hearing took place on February 13th 2014.
The Supreme Court rendered a historic decision on September 19th 2014 concluding that the Banks were subject to provincial legislation regarding consumer protection. The Supreme Court condemned the Bank of Montreal, the National Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Citibank of Canada, Amex Bank of Canada and the Fédération des Caisses Desjardins to reimburse the exchange conversion fees that were illegally charged due to the fact that they had not been divulged to consumers in their credit card contracts during a certain period of time. BMO, NBC, TD, Citibank and Amex were also condemned to pay $25 in punitive damages to each class member.
The actions against the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank) and the Laurentian Bank were dismissed and these institutions had no indemnity to pay.
Where are we now?
Following the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada, the members of the class represented by Réal Marcotte and Bernard Laparé, concluded settlement agreements with the Banks and Desjardins in order to distribute the amounts owed to members in the most efficient and rapid way possible in consideration of the judgment and the data available. Mrs. Justice Claudine Roy approved these settlement agreements on May 5th 2015. Justice Roy also approved class members’ counsel fees and the reimbursement of certain financing fees.
The claims process
The claims process and the distribution of the class members’ money is now finished and the members received their compensation. Here are the broad lines of the transactions approved by the Court:
AMEX paid the amount of 947 176,58 $ and all the fees related to the claims administration process. The claim process has now finished and the members received their compensation by check or credit within the month of september 2016
BMO paid the amount of $16 006 364.
NBC paid the amount of $19 500 000.
TD paid the amount of $7 250 000.
Citibank paid the amount of $1 473 094.66.
Desjardins paid the amount of $9 750 000.
For any question regarding the claim process for Amex Bank of Canada, please communicate with the claims administrator :
For the Amex Bank of Canada :
Bruneau Group Inc.
P.O. Box 82009, Gréber
Gatineau Quebec J8T 8B6
Attention: AMEX – FX Fees Class Action Settlement