Danish High Court Fines Saxo Bank $320,000 in SNB Dispute

Saxo was already left with a capital hole after losing as much as $107 ‎‎‎million following exchange-rate turmoil.‎

The high court of eastern Denmark (Østre Landsret), one of Denmark’s two ‎‎high courts, has ordered Saxo Bank A/S to pay out compensation exceeding ‎‎$300,000 in the latest lawsuit stemming from the SNB’s Black Swan.‎

In ‎January 2015, the Swiss National Bank’s surprise decision to remove the ‎Swiss franc’s euro peg has left brokers and their clients on treacherous ‎ground.‎

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A client named Greyzone ApS claimed Saxo wrongfully deducted funds ‎‎from his account after the broker repriced trades, which had initially been ‎confirmed as completed at better rates, later that day. He was asking the ‎court to declare that Saxo shouldn’t have ‎retroactively repriced the trades, seeking damages for the alleged ‎breach.‎

The Danish broker bank claimed that its platform published incorrect prices by failing to represent the complete absence of liquidity in the underlying financial market.

The Østre Landsret concluded that the company should pay compensation ‎‎of up to DKK 1,611,112 ($252,400), plus interest, which it ‎considers appropriate ‎effective from April 13, 2015. ‎ The Danish broker was also ordered to pay DKK 434,050 ($68,000) in legal costs to Greyzone ApS.

Saxo was already left with a capital hole after losing as much as $107 ‎‎million when the Swiss National Bank abandoned its exchange-rate cap on ‎‎the franc in January 2015.‎

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Many forex traders who lost money when the Swiss National Bank abandoned a trading band for the franc have sued their brokers to recoup part of their losses, particularly after scoring a victory against some firms such as IG Group.

In this case, the high court recommended Saxo to reinstate the terms of the ‎‎original trades of the client; therefore the company should refund the ‎‎additional loss applied to the client’s account and reinstate the original ‎‎closing balance. This is in addition to repaying any interest on the negative ‎‎balance.‎

Background

The Saxo’s client had six EUR/CHF position open on his account, all of ‎‎which were assigned to a stop-loss order at 1.1980. At 10.30.48 (CET) on ‎‎‎15 January 2015, just 48 seconds after SNB’s decision, he received trade ‎‎confirmations that five of his six trades were closed at a price of 1.19729, while ‎‎one was sold at 1.19727.‎

According to court papers, available information from EBS ‎platform on ‎average trading prices, referred to as VWAP (Volume ‎Weighted Average ‎Prices), among other things, show that Saxo’s price revisions didn’t reflect ‎market rates. Specifically, the price was above 1.200 at 10.30.46 (CET), ‎after ‎which the average price dropped to 1.1998 at 10.30.47, 1.1980 at ‎‎10.30.48 ‎and 1,1555 at 10.30.48.‎

After reviewing Saxo’s corporate documents, including Business Terms and ‎Conditions and Risk Warning, the court ruled that Saxo Bank was not ‎contractually entitled to correct faulty prices, revisit the ‎client’s trades or ‎amend the closing price. ‎

In November 2016, the Danish Maritime and Commercial High Court ruled ‎in Saxo Bank’s favor underlining that Saxo Bank’s actions were in line with the ‎bank’s business terms. And that market conditions were exceptional, that market ‎was illiquid and that it, in practice, was impossible to execute orders at the initial ‎prices.‎

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