Decision of the Competition Authority - Bank Millennium provided its clients with inaccurate information
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) received numerous consumer complaints pertaining to the use of prohibited clauses by Bank Millennium.
Seeking to enforce their rights, the borrowers have filed complaints with the bank, basing their claims on two clauses which were included in the register of prohibited clauses in 2012. The clauses in question pertain to the manner of calculation of mortgage loan amounts and loan payments on the basis of the Swiss franc exchange rate. The clauses referred to above were included in the register with entry numbers 3178 and 3179. The practices in question occurred in 2015 and 2016.
In October 2016, the President of the UOKiK initiated proceedings against Bank Millennium. The contents of the responses provided to the clients of the bank raised concerns of the Competition Authority. The undertaking would respond to consumer claims by stating that the fact that the clauses in question were included in the register of prohibited clauses was irrelevant in their situation.
“In our view, the inclusion of a given clause applied by a specific undertaking in the register of prohibited clauses means that any consumer who concluded a contract with such an undertaking and whose contract contains the given clause may assert his or her rights against the undertaking. This is because a prohibited clause should be considered non-binding from the moment the contract is concluded. The responses provided by the bank may have discouraged its clients from seeking to enforce their rights”, says Marek Niechciał, the President of the UOKiK.
Bank Millennium has since discontinued the impugned practices. However, since the application of the practices in question may have led consumers to abandon their efforts to enforce their rights, the President of the UOKiK decided to impose a fine in the amount of over PLN 20 million (PLN 20,748,675). The bank shall inform consumers by post of the decision adopted by the Authority; in addition, it has already published the information in question on its website. The decision of the UOKiK is immediately enforceable with regard to the obligation to provide the relevant information to consumers. The decision is not final and Bank Millennium may appeal against it to a court of law.