B. Levinbook & Co. is widely known as a class action expert, with its attorneys regularly representing defendants in approval applications for some of the most significant class action suits in Israel.
Our extensive knowledge of civil-commercial litigation in general, and particularly our specialization in banking and capital market law, coupled with many years of experience in the class action field, makes B. Levinbook & Co. uniquely suited for cases of this kind.
The firm regularly represents all of Israel’s leading banks in class action suits, as well as many of the largest companies in various sectors. These cases tend to be ones involving fundamental, precedential issues, or are cases where substantial sums are at stake. The caliber of our clients and the nature of these cases require in-depth expertise on issues spanning the entire spectrum of civil-commercial law.
B. Levinbook & Co. has an exceptional success rate in class action suits. Over the years, the vast majority of our cases have resulted in a victory for our clients, or the withdrawal of the claim.
The firm’s experience and expertise in this area is clearly reflected in the multitude of diverse cases it has handled over the years. Notable examples include:
- Representing First International Bank of Israel in a class action approval application filed against it and other banks on the grounds of breaching commission regulations with respect to credit and collateral handling fees. The suit claimed that the bank was unjustly charging commission fees for credit renewals that did not involve a change in collateral and/or an increased credit limit, which, according to the rates listed in the commission regulations, should be exempt from fees. The approval application for the NIS 332 million suit was rejected by the District Court, and the appeal was then rejected by the Supreme Court.
- Representing Union Bank of Israel, First International Bank, Kidma Provident Funds and Ubank Provident Fund Management in an approval application for a class action suit filed against them and other banks and entities estimated at NIS 233 million. The lawsuit was filed on the grounds of failure to respond to account foreclosure requests received in the banking system through electronic media from the Execution Office. The proceeding ended with the plaintiffs withdrawing the claim as part of a mutually-agreed-upon request, which was then approved by the court.
- Representing Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot in an approval application for a class action suit filed against it by a customer, involving seven different lawsuits including, inter alia, charging of various commissions in excess of rates published in the bank’s fee list and/or those permitted by law, and collection of interest on loans at a rate that allegedly contradicted the rate in the loan agreement. The value of the class action was estimated by the applicant at NIS 17 million. After submitting a response on behalf of the Bank, which included, among others, a number of threshold arguments, and upon the recommendation of the Court, the applicant withdrew the application, and his withdrawal was approved by the court.
- Representing Shemen Industries Ltd. in an approval application for a NIS 72 million class action suit filed against it, alleging that it sells Zeitola oil in violation of applicable standards, misleading consumers into thinking they are purchasing olive oil and therefore paying a higher price, when in reality the product is mostly canola oil. After the company issued a response on April 4, 2011, the District Court made a ruling approving, inter alia, the plaintiff’s withdrawal from the application and the rejection of his personal claim.
- Representing Excellence Investments, Ltd. in an approval application for a class action suit filed against it and its subsidiary (Worldwide Currencies Ltd.) estimated at NIS 84.5 million, which issued debentures under a prospectus backed by notes issued by a Lehman Brothers group bank. Claims were also filed against the rating company that rated the debentures, against the trustee of the issue, and against the subsidiary’s directors. Our firm represented all of the defendants in the Excellence Group. The claim was based on an allegation that the defendants had failed to fulfill their obligations to the bondholders, inter alia, by not informing them of Lehman Brothers’ connection to the bonds, and that the possibility of failure to pay the bonds was not reported, despite the warning signs that were allegedly published in connection with Lehman Brothers. The process ended with a court-approved settlement, in which, inter alia, the personal claim against the directors was rejected, and most of the settlement (about 80%), which constituted less than 5% of the amount of the claim as filed, was paid by the rating company.
- Representing Bank Leumi in an appeal to a Supreme Court ruling upholding the Tel Aviv District Court ruling on civil case 2238/02, which rejected an approval application for a class action suit filed against the bank and the credit card company. It was determined that the limitation of liability fee collected from credit card holders does not contradict the provisions of the Payment Cards Law and is consistent with it, and that disclosure regarding the fee’s existence, along with the disclosure of the fee in the published price list, is sufficient to charge the customer.
- Representing Discount Bank and Mercantile Discount Bank in an approval application for a class action suit, claiming that they unlawfully charged their customers’ accounts with a credit allocation fee prior to the date the credit was granted. The amount of the class action was estimated at NIS 25 million against Discount Bank, and at NIS 15 million against Mercantile. After the banks’ responses were submitted, the plaintiffs withdrew their application.
- Representing Miller Books Ltd. and Mesorah Artscroll Ltd. in an approval application for an approx. NIS 70 million class action suit against them for misleading consumers by claiming in the introduction to their prayer books that users would not have to leaf through the book to find the appropriate pages during prayers, which was not the case in practice. On December 16, 2010, after a response was submitted on behalf of the companies, the District Court handed down its ruling approving, inter alia, the plaintiffs’ withdrawal of the application, and the denial of their personal claim.
- Representing Partner Communications in an approval application for a NIS 234 million class action suit that was filed against it by a customer on January 4, 2016. The case relates to the telecom packages Partner offers its customers for use abroad, and the claim is currently pending.
- Representing Bank Leumi in an approval application for an approx. NIS 672 million class action suit against it and three other banks, alleging illegal collection of fees upon exercising Maof options. On April 19, 2012, a ruling was handed down, rejecting the approval application.
- Representing Bank Leumi in an approval application for a NIS 234 million class action suit filed against it on the grounds that it did not return fees for bank guarantees that were canceled/reduced before the redemption date. The application was rejected by the Tel Aviv District Court, in a ruling that analyzed, for the first time, whether there is a duty to refund a pro rata share of fees collected in advance if the service is stopped before the end of the period. This case occurred prior to the implementation of the Bank of Israel’s regulations regarding the subject.