A three-year investigation into U.K. bank charges on overdrawn customers ended with a whimper Tuesday after the U.K. Office of Fair Trading said it will leave it to banks to improve their practices.

The OFT said that within two years it wants to see more checking account customers given the chance to opt out of unarranged overdraft facilities, and better treatment of customers who do get into financial difficulty from the often-hefty overdraft charges, but it is not proposing any new legislation.

The retreat comes after the U.K. Supreme Court's surprise ruling in November that said the OFT did not have the power to decide if the charges were unfair or not under existing consumer protection rules, leaving the consumer protection agency toothless to enforce any potential restrictions on the charges.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.