09/19/2014 02:50 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:01 EDT

Supreme Court Of Canada's Credit Card Fee Ruling Puts Banks On Losing End

Getty Images
OTTAWA - Canada's top court has restored a Quebec trial judge's decision that penalizes several of the country's big banks for failing to meet provincial disclosure requirements when they charged currency-conversion fees to their credit card customers.

Quebec's appeal court had overturned the judge's punitive damages against Amex Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO), Citibank and National Bank (TSX:NA) while upholding punitive damages against Toronto-Dominion (TSX:TD).

But the Supreme Court of Canada restored the trial judge's decision that held all five banks should pay punitive damages for failing to disclose the currency conversion charges to their cardholders.

The punitive damages amounted to $25 per affected cardholder in addition to the return of fees collected in the 2000-2003 period covered by the suit.

The Supreme Court also upheld the appeal court's decision that four other banks that were named in the original class action — Royal Bank (TSX:RY), CIBC (TSX:CM), Scotiabank (TSX:BNS) and Laurentian (TSX:LB) weren't subject to penalties or repayments because of the nature of their cardholder agreements.

A separate Supreme Court ruling involving Desjardins found that it should return the foreign-exchange fees collected from its cardholders, but that punitive damages weren't warranted.

The banks had argued that Quebec's Consumer Protection Act didn't apply to them because of the division between provincial and federal powers — a position rejected by the Supreme Court and the lower courts.

Also on HuffPost: