International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes

Fairness

a fundamental principle for a financial services ombudsman

Fundamental principle

A financial services ombudsman scheme should:

  • be prompt
  • be impartial
  • proceed fairly
  • tell the parties in writing its decision and the reasons for it.

Effective approaches

Complaints not handled

If a complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the financial services ombudsman scheme, or if it is inappropriate for the ombudsman scheme to deal with it for any other reason, it promptly tells the complainant of that decision and the reasons for it.

At the outset

If the financial services ombudsman scheme’s decision will not bind the financial services business, even if accepted by the complainant, the ombudsman scheme tells the complainant at the outset that:

  • the ombudsman scheme’s decision will not bind the financial services business
  • the complainant can withdraw at any stage
  • if applicable, the complainant could go to court (subject to any time limits) instead.

If the financial services ombudsman scheme’s decision will bind the complainant, even if rejected by the complainant, the ombudsman scheme tells the complainant at the outset that:

  • the ombudsman scheme’s decision will bind the complainant
  • the complaint can withdraw at any stage before the decision is issued
  • if applicable, the complainant could go to court (subject to any time limits) instead,

       and secures the complainant’s specific agreement to proceed.

Due process

The financial services ombudsman scheme ensures that the complainant and the financial services business:

  • can put forward their information and arguments
  • can comment on the other party’s information and arguments
  • see a copy of any expert statements/opinions obtained by the ombudsman scheme
  • can comment on any expert statements/opinions obtained by the ombudsman scheme
  • are told they do not need a lawyer or legal advisor
  • are told they may seek independent advice or be represented/assisted by a third party
  • are notified of the outcome, with reasons, in writing.

Prompt and impartial

The financial services ombudsman scheme:

  • deals promptly with all stages of its enquiry and complaint handling process
  • reaches outcomes impartially.

Accepting a settlement or decision

Before asking the complainant to accept a settlement or a decision, the financial services ombudsman scheme tells the complainant:

  • the legal effect (if any) of accepting the settlement or decision
  • if applicable, that the solution is less advantageous to the complainant than a court would give,

    and gives the complainant a reasonable time to reflect.

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