A gavel rests on its sounding block with a several law books and a justice scale out of fucus in the background. A cool blue cast dominates the scene. (A gavel rests on its sounding block with a several law books and a justice scale out of fucus in t

An Ontario court has certified a fourth class action against one of the big banks for charging duplicative insufficient funds fees on pre-authorized debit transactions.

The Superior Court of Justice certified a proposed class action against Bank of Nova Scotia, following similar decisions involving parallel cases against Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

The lawsuits are grounded in allegations that the banks repeatedly charged NSF fees on failed automatic debit transactions when the intended recipient of a rejected transaction attempted to process it again.

The plaintiff alleged the duplicative fees violate consumer protection legislation in Ontario and the banks’ contracts with clients, and that they unjustly enriched the banks at the expense of their customers.

“[T]he plaintiff pleads that the burden of the duplicative NSF fees falls disproportionately on low-income Canadians, who are more likely to maintain low bank account balances,” the court noted.

The plaintiff in the case is seeking damages representing the excess fees paid and punitive damages, along with interest and costs.

The allegations have not been proven.

While the bank consented to the case being certified as a class action, the court nevertheless went through its analysis to establish that it meets the test to be certified.

“The only way this action can achieve the goals of behaviour modification, access to justice, and judicial economy is if it is certified; this litigation only works as a class proceeding,” the court said in its ruling.

The court certified the case as a class action on behalf of all Scotiabank customers that paid duplicate NSF fees of rejected pre-authorized debits between June 21, 2020 and April 30, 2024.