Whom I called, I will not get rid of the spirits now." Some lending banks are likely to remember the torments of Goethe's "Sorcerer's Apprentice" these days. There is a dispute over old loan agreements, some of which were made more than 15 years ago. In other words, at a time when even professional market participants hardly thought it possible that reference interest rates could turn negative. After all, interest rates are supposed to provide orientation in the calculation.

New customer lawsuits loom

In its ruling on such interest rate escalation clauses this week, the Federal Court of Justice took its cue from the wording of the law and the model of loan agreements – and dismissed the lawsuit against Dz Hyp. However, this only creates legal certainty for old contracts with municipalities and federal states. However, the question of whether companies and consumers have to pay their banks a "custody fee" (or could reclaim it) remains unresolved by the supreme court. On the one hand, there is a different legal transaction in such cases, and lawyers doubt that conflicts can be resolved on the basis of the current judgment. On the other hand, customers could withdraw their credit at any time.

This flexibility does not exist in loan agreements. Dissatisfied customers could be driven to the courts, which increases the number of lawsuits for "negative interest rates" on current accounts. So these ghosts will haunt the banks for a long time to come.