Kjerstin Braathen, the new chief executive of Norway’s biggest bank DNB, has spoken warmly of how important customers are. She’s prepared, however, to meet representatives for thousands of them in court after the bank decided to appeal its loss in the country’s biggest class-action suit ever.
“It’s never nice to meet our customers in court,” Braathen told state broadcaster DNB just after settling into her new role as CEO at DNB, “but sometimes there are situations where the law isn’t completely clear, and cases that are important in principle need clarification. This is such a case.”
The case involves around 180,000 customers who sued DNB because they’d been charged fees for active management of investment funds that they claimed they didn’t receive. An appeals court in Oslo ordered DNB to reimburse them in the amount of nearly NOK 350 million.
Now DNB is appealing to Norway’s Supreme Court. “Two rounds in court have come to completely opposite conclusions,” bank spokesman Even Westerveld said in justifying the decision to appeal. “We think the case deserves to be evaluated by the high court.”
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) recently editorialized that DNB, which dominates the Norwegian market, already has portrayed “arrogance” by dismissing criticism against it even before the state consumer council backed the bank’s customers and launched the legal action on their behalf.