Barclays Bank has overturned an appeals court ruling that rendered it potentially liable for a £700,000 authorised push payment scam against one of its customers.
Barclays customer Fiona Philipp sued the bank over the losses, arguing that the UK lender had failed in its duty of care by transferring the funds to scammers in the United Arab Emirates. Philips' case rested on whether the bank had reasonable grounds to suspect the transfers were fraudulent in nature.
Barclays took the case to the UK Supreme Court, which voted unanimously in favour of the bank.
In a written ruling, Judge George Leggatt stated: "Where the customer has authorised and instructed the bank to make a payment, the bank must carry out the instruction promptly.
"It is not for the bank to concern itself with the wisdom or risks of its customer's payment decisions."
The case is significant in that the UK's banks have been pilloried over failures to get to grips with APP fraud, in which customers are tricked into authorising payments to scammers. APP fraud has quickly become one of the most significant types of fraud in the UK, with losses totalling nearly £500 million in the last year.
Consumer groups and politicians have been clamouring for banks to tackle what is viewed as a growing epidemic and to speed up the process of reimbursement for blameless victims.
Under new regulations set to come into force next year, both sending and receiving banks running transactions over the UK's Faster Payments scheme will be expected to split the cost of reimbursements in the case of APP fraud. In drawing up the new rules, the Payment Systems regulator has yet to provide additional guidance on the customer standard of caution (gross negligence) and publication of all legal instruments to enorce the new regime.