Big banks waive rights to sue staff and victims who give evidence at royal commission

Big banks waive rights to sue staff and victims who give evidence at royal commission

Big banks waive rights to sue staff and victims who give evidence at royal commission

Updated 8 February 2018, 17:30 AEDT

The Commonwealth Bank, the bank at the centre of many of the biggest scandals to hit the industry, becomes the last major bank to confirm that victims and former staff are free to give evidence to the banking royal commission.

The Commonwealth Bank, the bank at the centre of many of the biggest scandals to hit the industry, is the last major bank to confirm that victims and former staff are free to give evidence to the financial services royal commission.

The bank has indicated current staff will also be able to volunteer evidence free from retribution.

NAB, ANZ and Westpac have confirmed to the ABC that they will not sue customers or staff who breach non-disclosure agreements or confidentiality clauses by giving information to, or testifying at, the inquiry.

There were serious concerns that the most egregious stories about the big banks' misconduct may never be heard because victims were gagged by agreements signed by victims when claims have been settled.

"ANZ will not rely on confidentiality agreements it has entered into with customers who want to either make a submission or appear before the royal commission," the bank's spokesperson said.

"If any of our customers want to make a submission to the royal commission, we encourage them to do so and we will waive any confidentiality obligations they have agreed to when resolving an issue with NAB," NAB chief legal and commercial counsel Sharon Cook told the ABC.

"We are doing this because it is important to us that we support customers being heard by the royal commission.

"We have also communicated to our people we fully support them making a submission to the royal commission if they would like to."

The Commonwealth Bank issued a statement saying it "will not enforce confidentiality obligations in non-disclosure or other agreements (NDAs) to prevent people from making a submission to the royal commission. This waiver only relates to submissions made to the royal commission".

The ACTU has been receiving information about the banks from members of the public to put into its own submission to the royal commission.

The ACTU launched a campaign today to ensure that the royal commission pushed banks to waive their legal rights, and has welcomed the banks' swift responses.