A European court has cleared the Icelandic government of failing to guarantee minimum levels of compensation for UK and Dutch savers in the collapsed Icesave bank.
Icesave, run by the Icelandic Landsbanki, collapsed in 2008 along with all of Iceland’s banking system.
The UK and Dutch savers were bailed out completely by their governments.
The ruling may halt the UK’s attempt to get all of its money back from the Icelandic government.
The Icelandic government said it took “considerable satisfaction” from the ruling from the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) Court.
“Iceland has from the start maintained that there is legal uncertainty as to whether a state is responsible for ensuring payments of minimum guarantees to depositors using its own funds and has stressed the importance of having this issue clarified in court,” it said.
The EFTA judgement stated: “The Court holds that the Directive does not envisage that the defendant itself must ensure payments to depositors in the Icesave branches in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in accordance with Articles 7 and 10 of the Directive, in a systemic crisis of the magnitude experienced in Iceland.”
What’s the core issue here is that Iceland guaranteed these accounts up to £16,300, but the British and Dutch cover the whole account, and demanded that Iceland pay the whole amount.
This is separate from the attempts to make the bondholders whole, for which there is no legal obligation whatsoever.