The public and the media have paid a lot of attention recently to the banks, their rates, fees and charges, and the litigation regarding penalty fees.

In the matter of Aktas v Westpac Banking Corporation Limited the High Court considered whether a bank dishonouring a cheque, by mistake, was a defamatory communication.  The case was about a real estate agency who had money in their trust account, and their bank dishonoured thirty cheques from the trust account endorsing them with ‘Refer to Drawer’.

The High Court found that there were always sufficient funds in the account, and so the Bank had breached its contract with the customer, and that each of the 30 communications about the dishonoured cheques was defamatory.