HSBC Holdings PLC has tentatively agreed to settle claims that it illegally colluded with other banks to require credit-card holders to arbitrate disputes, including debt collections, according to cardholders' lawyers.
Under the agreement, the London company will drop an arbitration clause and a ban against class actions from its consumer credit card agreements until at least late 2013, according to the Philadelphia law firm Berger & Montague PC, which represents the cardholders.
The Monday announcement follows settlements between cardholders and JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Capital One Financial Corp. All the settlements must be approved by a federal court before they can take effect.
"The lawsuit had accused Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Discover, HSBC and others of having secretly met or consulted some 30 times for the purpose of requiring cardholders to arbitrate all disputes with credit card companies in violation of the antitrust laws," Berger & Montague said.
HSBC spokeswoman Kate Durham confirmed the settlement and said the company admitted no wrongdoing.