Bank breached mandate and failed to communicate plainly and clearly

Account mandates,
Stefan and his former partner Elyse had held joint accounts with their bank since 2012. They moved their home loan to another bank and Stefan assumed all the accounts had been closed. However, a joint account remained open. Three years later, they separated. A year after that, Elyse opened another account in both names without Stefan’s knowledge or authority. The bank said the account opening authority allowed one person to open a new joint account.
July 2021


Our investigation

We reviewed the account opening authority and considered it did not specifically allow for one person to be able to unilaterally open new accounts. We found the bank breached the account mandate as well as its Code of Banking Practice obligations by not using plain language or communicating with customers clearly and effectively. However, if a mandate for a joint account clearly allowed one person to instruct the bank to open a new account, the bank would usually be entitled to act on one person’s instructions only, unless the bank was aware of changed circumstances, such as the parties had separated.


We recommended the bank pay Stefan $750 in compensation for inconvenience.

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