More than 400 Austrian banks have gone before the Constitutional Court (VfGH) because of the loans that were legally deferred during the Corona period, for which banks are not allowed to charge interest. The money houses received the decision today: According to the Constitutional Court, the interest-free credit moratorium in 2020 was constitutional, and the application submitted was therefore rejected. This emerges from a press release from the Constitutional Court.
The trigger was the judgment against BAWAG
The trigger for the banks’ application, which 403 institutions joined, was a judgment by the Supreme Court (OGH) against BAWAG at the end of 2021, which showed that for the period of the statutory credit moratoria – from April 1, 2020 to January 31 2021 – not only no interest on arrears, but also no debit interest, i.e. normal contractual interest, may be charged. This was not clearly regulated in the 2nd Covid-19 Judicial Accompanying Act, in which special rules were created to relieve consumers affected by the pandemic.
The banks had argued that this was an encroachment on their property and a violation of the principle of equality. Because compared to landlords, who were allowed to reclaim their rents including interest after a three-month deferral period, the banks lost their income from the loans, namely the interest, for ten months.