A DECISION by the European Court of Justice could cost the Polish banks around 44 billion zloty (around €10.2 billion) following its ruling in favour of Polish homeowners who took out mortgages denominated in Swiss francs.
Many borrowers took their case to the Polish courts alleging that their mortgage contracts contained unfair terms. Although the Polish courts generally ruled in favour of the borrowers, they were unable to agree what should happen to their contracts.
But on Thursday the European Court of Justice ruled that the contracts would have to be cancelled. The court’s decision enables the borrowers to repay the balance of their debt in zloty, at the original exchange rate, rather than in Swiss francs.
But Polish borrowers will still have to take their cases through the local courts and any conversion costs to zlotys could be spread over years.
In 2014, Hungary forced its banks to convert its foreign exchange mortgages, most of which were linked to the Swiss franc, into the local currency (the Hungarian Forint.) In 2015, Croatia followed suit.
But in April this year Greece’s Supreme Court ruled overwhelmingly that some 70,000 people who’d taken out loans denominated in Swiss francs would have to repay them at the current exchange rate; not at the time they were issued by the banks.