NatWest and RBS chaos sees one man in jail


fake jail cellChinaFotoPress/Photocome/Press Association Images

Since the first problems emerged at NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank, the horror stories have been flooding in. Perhaps one of the most alarming emerged this morning, with one man spending the weekend in jail because of the glitch.

So what happened, and can this man - or anyone else - expect any compensation?


In this particular case, the Daily Telegraph has reported that a defendant in a court case being heard at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent on Friday, was let out of jail for the weekend, on the condition that bail was posted.

By Friday the computer problem was fixed at NatWest, but this particular payment was caught in the backlog, so the unnamed man was left in the cells over the weekend.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service told the newspaper there were actually two cases where a "banking issue" had created problems for defendants. However, for the defendant at the case being heard at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, the magistrate granted bail anyway.


Many implications have been dramatic and far-reaching. There are unconfirmed reports of a dying British girl in Mexico, whose family were told the life support machine would be switched off because funds had not cleared.

There are other first-hand reports of house transactions not going through, disabled people stranded in their home without food because companies did not receive payment, families left without food, electricity or gas because benefit payments failed to clear, and holidays stopped in their tracks at the 11th hour.

Back to normal
The good news is that most things seem to be back to normal. The bank said this morning: "RBS and NatWest confirm that the update of customer account balances has cleared overnight, with the exception of a few specific sets of transactions. We know this disruption was unacceptable and that many customers will still have questions and concerns. It is possible a small number of customers may experience delays as we return to a completely normal service. We will continue to extend our branch opening hours all week." The banking group is still trying to wade through problems at Ulster Bank.

At the moment, there are people reporting problems with direct debits leaving NatWest current accounts but never arriving.


But what can you do if this crisis has left you out of pocket and experiencing serious hardship?
The bank has already announced that no-one should be left any poorer by the crisis. Susan Allen, Director of Customer Services, RBS Group said in a statement: " We will automatically waive any overdraft fees or charges on current accounts. This will be processed over the next few days."

And for those worried that the last few days will have damaged their credit score she says: "We will work directly with credit agencies to ensure no one has their credit score affected. For all other issues, customers have our commitment that they will not be out of pocket from this issue. We will publish further details on how we will ensure this later in the week."

It has since confirmed that any charges from any other third party due to lack of cleared funds will also be paid by the bank. The Financial Ombudsman's guidance is that people should be left no worse off than if the problem had never happened. Of course, for complex matters like a house sale falling through, this may not be a simple process, as there is bound to be some discussion as to where the fault lay. Likewise, there is no news on the issue of compensation for distress - which presumably would include the stress of spending the weekend in jail.

What you can do

Customers have been encouraged by the Ombudsman to keep records of what has happened to them and their account over the last few days, and stay vigilant for the next few too. We are expecting more details on compensation later this week. However, when any scheme is announced, the more information you have, the better.

You will need a note not just of what happened to your account, but any costs you incurred (with proof where possible) even down to the phone calls you had to make to the bank.

The usual compensation claim rules will apply - where you start with a complaint to the bank, and if you are unhappy with the response the Financial Ombudsman will look at your case.

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