The BGH clarified that the clause for interest rate adjustments in the contract of the Sparkasse was ineffective because it contained no requirements and was incalculable for the saver. (REFERENCE XI ZR 234/20). The consumer center spoke of a "guiding judgment for all premium savers".
More than 1300 persons affected had registered for the sample lawsuit alone at the Federal Court of Justice against the Sparkasse in Leipzig. According to the calculations of consumer advocates, the Savings Bank has paid them on average 3100 euros too little.
Reference interest rate of the Bundesbank
In order to determine which interest rate would have been correct in the past, an official reference interest rate of the Bundesbank should be used. Which exactly, the Higher Regional Court Dresden should decide on the basis of an expert opinion. In this matter, the BGH dismissed the case again to the lower court, even if it finally ruled on the fundamental issue. The presiding judge Jürgen Ellenberger said that the question of which interest rate is now exactly the right one must be clarified with the help of an expert. There has also been no supreme court decision on the question of when claims may be forfeited.
The Consumer Center Saxony evaluated the decision as a success. The difference between the Bundesbank's various reference rates is about 10 to 15 percent. Which one is chosen in the end is not decisive, said Michael Hummel, the judicial officer of the consumer center.
Importantly, the court ruled that the relative changes in the reference interest rate should be used to calculate possible repayments, and not the absolute ones, Hummel said. What does this mean? For example, if a premium savings contract had been concluded many years ago with an initial interest rate of 5 percent, when the reference rate was at 10 percent, and the reference rate later fell to 5 percent, taking into account the absolute change would have reduced the rights to additional payments to zero, taking into account the relative change only to 2.5 percent. On this issue, the court ruled in favor of bank customers, said the consumer center.
The German Savings Banks and Giro Association criticized the judgment: The now specified relative distance to a reference interest rate is, depending on the interest rate situation, advantageous for consumers or disadvantageous compared to the currently used absolute distance: "We therefore do not necessarily see the judgment as a decision in the interest of consumers." The Sparkasse in Leipzig said that the judgment creates "a piece of legal certainty", but does not yet lead to a final clarification of possible claims of consumers and therefore not to payment claims in individual cases.Updated Date: 08 October 2021, 00:00