Law Essays – Banker Customer Relationship

Banker Customer Relationship

In the visible radiation of a “ monolithic eroding of the rule of confidentiality ” . In the Banker/ Customer Relationship Review Committee on Banking Services Law ( 1989 ) recommended that “ the authorities should non foster widen the statutory exclusions to the responsibility of confidentiality, without taking full history of the effects for the banker/ client relationship ” Critically discourse how the rules of confidentiality has developed the possible facet on banker/customer relationship.

The banking service plays a major function in within modern society. It is estimated that over 90 % of all grownups in the UK keep a bank or edifice society history. Therefore the proper deliver of services by Bankss is of significance to the bulk of UK consumers.

The issue of confidentiality is an indispensable characteristic of the service.

In 1989, the Treasury and the Bank of England set up the first independent reappraisal on banking services jurisprudence and pattern within the UK. That study is known as the ‘Jack Report ‘ . The aims of the study were to accomplish four chief aims:

I ) achieve equity and transparence of traffics

two ) maintain assurance

three ) promote efficiency

four ) preserve the bankers ‘ responsibility of confidentiality.

Amongst its 83 recommendations, the Report recommended that the authorities should non foster widen the statutory exclusions to the responsibility of confidentiality, without taking full history of the effects for the bank/customer relationship.

This paper seeks to analyse how the rules of confidentiality have developed since 1989 in relation to the banker and consumer.


The duties of confidentiality in relation to banking jurisprudence within the UK root from the common jurisprudence. The taking instance in this country was Tournier 5 National Provincial and Union Bank of England. The bank had released information related to the complainant ‘s debt to the bank to his employers, and this later led to his dismissal. The Court of Appeal confirmed that it is an implied term of the banker/customer contract that the banker has a responsibility of secretiveness. In the fortunes of the instance, it was found that the bank had breached its responsibility, and the tribunal found for the complainant.

Bankes LJ stated that confidentiality may be breached:

I ) Where revelation is made under irresistible impulse of jurisprudence ;

two ) Where there is a responsibility to the populace to unwrap

three ) Where the involvements of the bank requires revelation

four ) Where the revelation is made by the express or implied consent of the client.

The determination was more late affirmed by the Court of Appeal in 1989 in Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale.

Therefore, the primary regulation in UK banking jurisprudence is that all information associating to the province of a clients account, or any of his minutess with the bank, or any information relating to the client acquired through the maintaining of his history is confidential, capable to the four Tournier exclusions.

Statutory Law

The first exclusion in Tournier permits the bank to unwrap confidential information under irresistible impulse of jurisprudence. This may be either at common jurisprudence or legislative act.

The Committee took the position that excessively many inroads had been made by statute law into banking confidentiality. At the clip of the Jack Report, the undermentioned legislative exclusions existed: –

Banking Acts

The Banking Act 1979 was the first formal legal model to banking ordinance within the UK. Part V of the Banking Act 1987 sets out limitations on the revelation of information without consent. It does non widen to any information within the public sphere. Exceptions are set out at Sections 83 and 84. These license, inter alia, restricted information may be released to an hearer if that information would help the FSA in dispatching its maps.

Section 7 – The Bankers Books and Evidence Act 1879

This permits any party to legal proceedings to use to the tribunal for an order allowing him permission to inspect and take transcripts of any entries in a bankers books, for the intents of such proceedings. This power is discretional, and will merely be exercised with great cautiousness. An order is merely normally made against the history of the party who is involved in the judicial proceeding or, if it is in the name of some other individual, the history which is truly the history of the party. It will merely be made against non parties in really exceeding fortunes. Further, there is an implied project on find merely to utilize the paperss for the intents of the action in which find is given.

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The Taxes Management Act 1970 S1 & A ; 2

Assorted commissariats under this act permit the Commissioners to make up one’s mind whether or non in their sentiment revenue enhancement has been unlawfully evaded.

Therefore, the scope of this exclusion is broad. However, it is merely the office holder, such as the Administrator or murderer that may do an application to the tribunal for an order under this proviso.

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

The constabulary are entitled to obtain entree to particular process stuff for the intents of condemnable probe. If an order is made associating to bank confidential information, the bank is under no duty to defy the order, nor to inform the client that an order is being sought.

Financial Services Act 1986

S177 allows the Secretary of State to name inspectors to transport out probes to set up whether or non an offense of insider dealing has been committed. The Inspectors may order any individual whom they consider may be able to give information to bring forth any paperss in his ownership or control.

Insolvency Act 1986 s.236 ( 1 )

The tribunal may cite any individual known or suspected to be in ownership of any belongings of the company or supposed to be indebted to the company ; or any individual whom the tribunal thinks capable of giving information refering the publicity, formation, traffics, personal businesss or belongings of the company. It can necessitate production of any records in his ownership or control associating to these issues. The proviso is non limited to paperss required to restructure the province of the company ‘s cognition.

Criminal Justice Act 1987

By Section 2, in instances of serious or complex fraud, the Director of the Serious Fraud Office may necessitate any individual to bring forth specified paperss that appear to the Director to associate to any affair relevant to the probe.

The Jack Report

The study examined the banker ‘s responsibility of confidentiality and, in peculiar, the exclusion at three ) above in the Tournier instance – that revelation may be permitted where the involvement of the bank requires revelation.

The commission recommended that statute law should be enacted to province that amendss for breach of confidentiality should include compensation for hurt, embarrassment or incommodiousness, irrespective of whether fiscal loss could be proved.

The study expressed concern in peculiar in relation to the turning perceptual experience within some Bankss that they are permitted to let go of confidential information to other members of their group without any express consent. An extra concern related to the revelation of confidential information to recognition mention bureaus.

These issues were considered in Turner v Royal Bank of Scotland PLC. In that instance, the bank had responded to a figure of position questions in its criterion coded footings – appears to be to the full committed at present ) . The tribunal heard grounds that it was the standard pattern of all Bankss non to seek clients ‘ consents. The Court of Appeal held that clients were entitled, under Tournier, to hold their personal businesss kept confidential, and it was non for Bankss to in private hold otherwise.

The banking codification now makes clear the bank ‘s duties in these respects.

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The Committee was concerned that the balance between public involvement and private rights had moved excessively far in the way of revelation.

It is hence clear, in visible radiation of the Jack Report, that the 3rd exclusion within Tournier should non be used other than within the narrowest of state of affairss.

The authorities responded carefully to the Report, but supported the thought of a voluntary codification of pattern.

A voluntary codification was developed by the Bankss. Although the codification is voluntary, Almost all Bankss subscribe to it. The March 2003 edition of the Banking Code sets out the bank ‘s duties of confidentiality, which reflect the four exclusions within Tournier.

The Code besides makes clear that the 3rd exclusion within Tournier is designed to protect the establishment ‘s legitimate involvements, and does non widen to the transportation of information for selling intents – unless the client has provided specific consent to such revelation.

Developments since the Jack Report

Since 1989, statements in favor of revelation have increased. This arises out of turning concerns related to drug trafficking and other signifiers of organized offenses. Concerns have escalated in the aftermath of 9/11 and the war on terrorist act. Therefore, since the Report, the authorities has enacted farther statute law, which create much tighter duties on Bankss to unwrap information associating to drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist act, as follow.

Drug Trafficking Act 1994

This provides that where a individual discloses to a constable a intuition that financess are used in connexion with drug trafficking, that revelation will non be a breach of any statutory or other legal limitation. The constabulary are besides permitted to use to the tribunal for an order for revelation in appropriate fortunes.

Money Washing Regulations 2001

The new ordinances add a power to the commissioners to come in and inspect money service operators ‘ premises. It besides empowers the commissioners to seek a tribunal order necessitating any individual in ownership of specified information to let them entree to it, where there are sensible evidences for believe that a money laundering offense has been committed.

Part 3 Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001

This act was passed highly rapidly in response to the terrorist onslaughts on 11ThursdaySeptember 2001. The Act was intended to guarantee that authorities sections and bureaus can roll up and portion information required for countering the terrorist menace. The revelation powers within Part 3 have proved controversial, peculiarly since those powers are non limited to anti-terrorist probes. There is of course a sensed danger of citizens ‘ privateness rights being breached if hitherto confidential information is disclosed to the constabulary or intelligence bureaus under this new statute law.

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Under this Act, a crown tribunal justice may do a revelation order necessitating any individual to give tot he Director of the Assets Recovery Agency any relevant information. Under Sections 370-375, the tribunal may besides do a client information order, which requires a bank to supply information associating to the personal businesss of the client.

Civil Procedure Rules Part 31

The demands for revelation are extended beyond the pre 1999 tribunal regulations. The tribunal has developed powers to order find of information at the earliest phases of an action to help a claimant to follow and retrieve belongings to which he claims he is wrongfully deprived.


The Jack Committee felt that excessively many inroads had been made by statute law into banking confidentiality, and recommended that consolidating statute law be enacted.

It requested that any future freedoms should be made by mention to the new proviso, and any non so made would non overrule the cardinal responsibility of confidentiality.

No such statute law was introduced. The authorities did non accept that there had been a monolithic eroding of the responsibility. It is submitted nevertheless that the exclusions in 1989 were highly broad, as set out above. Exceptions existed if there was intuition of revenue enhancement equivocation, any offense ( under PACE ) , insider dealing, or fraud. Further, paperss were even so disclosable without any condemnable activity, in the instance of an insolvent company or where civil proceedings were commenced.

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The authorities has since enacted extended extra statute law which farther undermines the duty of confidentiality, making a new intuition based coverage government. The authorities will reason that the farther inroads are justified in the battle against terrorist act, drug trafficking and other serious offense.

The authorities must be seen to strike an appropriate balance in confidentiality Torahs vis a vis civil rights and public involvement.

The of import inquiry is whether today ‘s consumers accept that there is justification for the lessened responsibility. Consumers would usually see all information within the Bankss ownership as wholly confidential, non to be released without their expressed consent. It is submitted nevertheless that, in visible radiation of today ‘s ambiance of abomination to terrorist act and offenses that may fund terrorist act, such as drug trafficking and money laundering, the inroads to the responsibility seem toothsome.

Of class, the freedoms are far wider than most consumers would anticipate. For illustration, under the Bankers Books and Evidence Act, or under Part 31 of the Civil Procedure Rules, the tribunal can necessitate revelation from a bank in connexion with any civil tribunal proceedings. This will non needfully affect instances where there is any intuition of condemnable activity, and may merely associate to an alleged, ailment founded claim for breach of contract.

It is indispensable in today ‘s society that consumers are able to keep trust in their bank, and rely on the inexplicit confidentiality of the relationship. The right to privateness is of cardinal importance to most consumers This is indispensable peculiarly in commercialism. It is non contributing to commercial efficiency to hold information associating to trading made unfastened to rivals. A breach of assurance to a rival can do immediate, irreparable and incalculable loss to a company.

The tribunals have emphasized that there is a strong public involvement in keeping confidentiality based on the moral rules of trueness and just dealing. Consumers unwrap information to Bankss on the apprehension that it will stay confidential.

Of class, revelation is justified in exceeding fortunes, for illustration control of banking fraud, or where an person is involved in money washing net incomes from terrorist act or drug trafficking. However, it is submitted that the current extent of the statutory exclusions go far beyond this.


Banking Litigation – Warne & A ; Elliot, Sweet & A ; Maxwell 1999

Encyclopedia of Banking Law, Cresswell and others – Butterworths 2004

Halsbury ‘s Laws of England, volume 3 ( 1 ) , 4ThursdayEdition

Halsbury ‘s Laws of England 2001 Annual Abridgement ( Paragraph 278 )

Modern Banking jurisprudence – Ellinger, Limnicka & A ; Hooley, 3rdEdition – Oxford 2002

The Law Associating to Domestic Banking – Pen & A ; Shea, 2neodymiumEdition – Sweet & A ; Maxwell

Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001

Banking Code March 2003

Data Protection Act 1988

Drug Trafficking Act 1994

Evidence ( Proceedings in other legal powers ) Act 1975

Insolvency Act 1986

Money Washing Regulations 2001 SI 2001/3641

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1988

Taxes Management Act 1970

Bhinji V Chatwani ( No 3 ) [ 1992 ] 4 All ER 913

British Commonwealth Holdings plc ( joint decision makers ) v Spicer & A ; Oppenheim ( a house ) [ 1993 ] AC 426

Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale [ 1989 ] 1 WLR 1341

Peterson V Idaho First National Bank 83 Idaho 578

Tournier 5 National Provincial and Union Bank of England [ 1924 ] 1 KB 461 CA

Turner Vs Royal Bank of Scotland PLC ( 1999 ) CA ( Civ Div ) 24.3.99 )

Banking Servicess: Law and Practice Report by the Review Committee – Professor Robert Jack – Centimeter 622 1989

Cracking the codifications for bank clients – Banking services Consumer codification reappraisal group, May 2001.

Court Rules on Duty of Confidentiality – Lovells – International Law Office –