TORONTO, Ont. — Thus far, between 400 to 500 vehicle owners say they want to be part of the landmark legal action against what lawyers call “illegal” late-payment fees instituted by operators of Hwy. 407.
Under the existing billing statutes of Canada’s first electronic toll route (ETR), customers missing the 90-day deadline to pay are automatically billed an extra $30 as a late fee.
In the case of one driver, who owed just 12 cents, that penalty works out to a 300,000-per-cent interest penalty — far exceeding the 60-per-cent maximum allowed under the Canadian Criminal Code, according to the lawyers handling the case.
If the suit goes ahead, and they win, lawyers Martin Doane and Kirk Baert not only hope to recover what customers have been billed in late-payment fees, but also a share of $500,000 in punitive damages.
“It’s our understanding that their annual revenues are in the $250 million range and we would be surprised if their late-payment penalties are any less than about 1 per cent, or $2.5 million, each year,” says Doane.
If the suit goes ahead, which won’t be know for tree or four months yet, the lawyers will be asking everybody who has expressed interest to send in their invoices and proof of payment for their late fines. There is no charge to participate.
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