FX loans have turned into a huge problem in countries such Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine. Yet, politicians and banks have ignored the problem.
These cases were spelled out at a conference on CHF/FX loans in Cyprus in December 2014. The conference was organised by Katherine Alexander-Theodotou, president of the UK Anglo-Hellenic and the Cypriot Law Association, and various representatives of organisations fighting FX loans.
The European Legal Committee for Consumer Rights was set up following the conference in Cyprus in order to co-ordinate the work in the various countries marred by FX loans..
Scope of the committee
People: The Committee is only acting on behalf of private individuals and households who have taken out FX loans but not on behalf of companies or local authorities. Thus, such bodies are out of scope, even though they are trading or operating as consumers of financial products and not as financial traders. (This follows a legal distinction required in Poland and elsewhere).
Contracts: The organisation will deal with (a) loans with unfair clauses such as abusive fees, foreign currency denomination or indexing and floating interest rates; (b) investment instruments which are unfair to the consumer, such as worthless or junk bonds. (I would leave Contracts out but that’s up to you).
The committee is an unincorporated association based in England according to the laws of England and Wales.
The Committee aims at promoting the following:
- To protect European citizens against predatory selling of FX loans to private individuals and households with no income or assets in foreign currency.
- To regulate and assimilate banking activities across Europe.
- To strengthen the European Banking Authority, now the EU banking regulator.
- Strengthening of EU Directives to make them more easily enforceable in all EU countries.
- Lodging complaints to the European Commission for breach of EU law.
- Assisting consumers to bring proceedings in their own country.
- To establish an easily accessible committee at the European Parliament to deal with fair practices for consumers relating to “bank products” as e.g. mortgages and loans involving FX transactions and other opaque financial products aimed at private individuals and households.
- Strengthening FIN-NET, the Europe-wide network of financial Ombudsmen to facilitate complaints and enforcement of consumer rights.
- Education of the public (consumers, decision makers) concerning “bank products”.
- Liaise with the media in order to inform the public on the activities undertaken and to create, when appropriate, pressure on authorities to promote interests of bank customers.