The Berlin Regional Court has overturned the regulation on negative interest at Sparda-Bank Berlin.

A bank spokesman confirmed a corresponding report in the Handelsblatt newspaper on Monday evening.

However, the bank apparently does not want to come to terms with the decision and is therefore appealing against it.

It was a judgment of a subordinate instance that contradicts previous case law on custody fees, said the spokesman.

It also runs counter to the applicable regulation agreed with the financial supervisory authority Bafin.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in business.

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The court had taken the view that the calculation of a custody fee for current accounts was “incompatible with the fundamental principles of the statutory regulation” (file number 16 O 43/21). "The clause is therefore unreasonably disadvantageous to the consumer," is quoted from the judgment. Negative interest rates on overnight money accounts also contradict the legal guidelines, the judges said. The bank should therefore “pay back the custody fee at its own expense”. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) took legal action in Berlin, praising the judgment as the most extensive judge's verdict on custody fees to date.

The Berlin-based Sparda-Bank caused a stir in 2018 when the management board apologized to customers via video message that the bank had introduced account management fees. The CEO spoke of a "difficult process", a colleague of the board of a "turning point in the history of the company". In addition to account management fees, the bank had also introduced a custody fee at that time, although the Association of Sparda Banks had previously stated that something like this could not be conveyed to the special customers of this banking group.

Most recently, the Sparda-Bank Berlin reported that negative interest rates combine the good with the useful. According to its own information, the institute likes to broker funds from the cooperative fund company Union Investment in the advisory meetings on all aspects of negative interest.

And recently, “the focus” in these discussions has often been specifically on sustainable funds: The reallocation of customers to protect against negative interest rates should in this way become, as it were, a reallocation in favor of the climate.