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ombudsman principles

principle 2: clarity of scope and powers

Effective approaches to fundamental principles guide: part 3

 

Clarity of scope and powers is a fundamental principle

which members should aspire to comply with, so far as it is within their control

 

3.1 The financial ombudsman scheme should publish details of:

• the scope of its jurisdiction;

• its enquiry and case-handling processes;

• its powers;

• the status of its decisions;

• any effect on the complainant’s legal rights of using the ombudsman scheme; and

• what information is (or is not) kept confidential.

 

Effective approaches

that have worked in some countries, though there may possibly be other ways.

 

Basics

 

3.2 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of:

• its postal address, phone number, email address and website address;

• the basis of its authority;

• its decision makers, their method of appointment and term of office; and

• its membership of any national or international network.

 

Jurisdiction

 

3.3 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of the scope of its jurisdiction, including:

• the financial businesses that are covered;

• the types of services that are covered;

• whether or not that includes services provided cross-border;

• whether or not the complainant must be a customer;

• whether any businesses can complain and, if they can, what types of business;

• any time limits within which a dispute must be brought to the ombudsman scheme;

• any minimum or maximum value of disputes that the ombudsman scheme can handle; and

• any grounds on which the ombudsman scheme may decline to deal with a dispute that is in its jurisdiction.

 

Processes

 

3.4 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of its enquiry and case-handling processes, including:

• whether the complainant must first complain directly to the financial business;

• any requirements on how financial businesses handle complaints;

• anything else the complainant must do before referring a dispute to the ombudsman scheme;

• whether or not the ombudsman scheme handles enquiries;

whether or not the ombudsman scheme uses negotiation/conciliation/mediation;

• whether or not the ombudsman scheme actively investigates cases;

• the language(s) in which disputes can be submitted and can be handled; and

• whether or not bringing a dispute to the ombudsman scheme suspends any time limit for taking the dispute to court.

 

Powers

 

3.5 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of its powers, including:

• any power to demand information or documents from either of the parties;

• the basis on which disputes are decided – for example. fairness/equity;

• any maximum limit to the amount of compensation it can recommend/award;

• whether or not compensation is limited to financial loss;

• whether or not compensation can carry interest until the date it is paid;

• whether or not costs can be (and, if so, are likely to be) awarded;

• whether or not the financial business can be required to do anything else to put things right for the complainant; and

• whether or not the financial business can be required to change its processes.

 

Status of decisions

 

3.6 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of the status of its decisions, including:

• whether or not they are published;

• whether or not they bind the financial business;

• if binding, how they can be enforced;

• if non-binding, the percentage of cases in which they are followed by financial businesses;

• if non-binding and not followed, whether there are consequences (e.g. publicity);

• whether or not they bind the complainant; and

• whether or not there is the possibility of review by, or appeal to, the courts.

 

Confidentiality

 

3.7 The financial ombudsman scheme publishes details of whether or not:

• the identities of the parties are kept confidential;

• other information about disputes is kept confidential; and

• a party can use information from the investigation/decision in subsequent court/arbitration proceedings.

 

Publication

 

3.8 These details are made publicly available:

• on the financial ombudsman scheme’s own website; and

• in any other way appropriate in the relevant country.

 

BACK TO PART 2: INDEPENDENCE, TO SECURE IMPARTIALITY

FORWARD TO PART 4: ACCESSIBILITY

 

 

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