Since banks and world financial markets started collapsing over a month ago, politicians, commentators and people in the street have pointed the finger of blame in a variety of directions: at bankers, regulators, hedge fund managers, mortgage lenders, short-sellers and speculators, among others.
They were widely accused of dithering earlier this week but Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling have now finally caught up with events and have tried for the first time to overtake them by unveiling a 50-billion pound rescue package for the banks.
Britain’s largest banks and the Office of Fair Trading remain locked in a case management hearing in court over the thorny issue of current account default charges, but the judge has already indicated that the banks will be given the green light to appeal the ruling against them. The appeal — on at least part of Mr Justice Andrew Smith’s ruling, which relates to “fairness” and the rights of customers to sue banks — is a hammer-blow to scores of consumers whose claims for compensation have been put on hold while the matter trundles through the courts.
Consumers might be one step closer to being able to claim back billions of pounds in bank changes following the High Court ruling this week that paved the way for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to assess bank charges for fairness. But it’s not all rosy in the garden for bank customers.