In 2004, the BGH ruled that the savings banks were not allowed to arbitrarily change interest rates for premium savings contracts. Almost 20 years later, the debate is still going on. However, hopes of a lavish interest rate hike have been dampened.
A model lawsuit by the consumer advice center against the Nürnberger Sparkasse is threatened with rejection on several counts. The Federal Association of Consumer Centers wants to enforce high back interest payments for premium savings contracts from the 1990s. However, during the oral hearing before the Bavarian Higher Regional Court in Munich on Friday, it became apparent that these additional interest payments could ultimately be less high than the plaintiffs had hoped - the consumer advice center calculated an average of 4,600 euros. In the afternoon, the court heard another, very similar model lawsuit against the Munich Stadtsparkasse.
In the Nuremberg case, the court wants to appoint an expert to recommend an appropriate rate of interest based on the rates of the Bundesbank. However, the first civil senate made it clear that the savings bank was allowed to terminate the disputed premium savings contracts after 15 years and the associated achievement of the highest premium level. "We believe that the interpretation provides a very clear result," said the chairwoman and court president Andrea Schmidt - the Sparkasse did not waive the right of termination in the contracts.
The consumer center, on the other hand, wanted to enforce that the terminations were unlawful. In the event of success, savings bank customers could have sued for additional interest payments for the years after the termination of a contract. The judges also did not follow the arguments of the consumer advocates on several other points.
The Nürnberger Sparkasse rated the negotiation as a success. Additional interest payments of 4,600 euros are illusory, said Michael Kläver, deputy board member. "We are very confident that there will be a reasonable decision here."
The courts nationwide have been dealing with premium savings contracts and their interest rates for more than two decades. As early as 2004, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled that contract clauses that allowed savings banks to lower their interest rates at will were unlawful. Since then, there have been arguments about how high the interest rate should have been, and in many cases also whether savings banks were entitled to terminate premium savings contracts. Nationwide, it was estimated that several hundred thousand savings contracts.
In October 2021, the BGH then determined in a further decision on a similar model lawsuit by the Saxon consumer advice center against Sparkasse Leipzig that the basis for the calculation of any additional payments should be a reference interest rate from the Bundesbank for long-term savings deposits. But which of the many Bundesbank interest rates that should be exactly has to be clarified in the Saxon proceedings.