From 1 April 2019 regulation of CMCs and their activities will be carried out by the FCA – transferring from the Claims Management Regulator, which is part of the Ministry of Justice. And we’ll take on responsibility for complaints about CMCs. Currently, people who feel they’ve been treated unfairly by a CMC can take their complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
Just like the Legal Ombudsman, we’ll be able to look at complaints about CMCs working in a range of sectors:
- criminal injury
- financial products and services
- housing disrepair
- industrial injury benefit (‘specified benefit’)
- personal injury
We’ll be able to deal with complaints against CMCs about events that happened on or after 1 April 2019, if the client or the CMC is in England, Scotland or Wales. This widens the current scope of ombudsman schemes in the CMC sector. We might also be able to help with other complaints if the CMC has joined our voluntary jurisdiction.
We’ll also be able to take on complaints about events that happened before 1 April, but weren’t raised with the Legal Ombudsman before that date - as long as the person bringing the complaint would have been able to do so under the Legal Ombudsman scheme rules.
We’ll be able to look into complaints about the service received from a CMC, for example:
- a CMC didn’t clearly explain:
- what fees would be charge them before they entered into a contract with you
- any changes to the fees during the course of a contract with them
- didn’t keep them informed about the progress of their claim
- caused unnecessary delays to the progress of their claim
- provided inappropriate or incorrect claims advice
- failed to follow their instructions
- consistently didn’t reply when they contacted you
- passed their claim onto another CMC without telling them
- repeatedly contacted them without their consent
Complaints already with the Legal Ombudsman on 1 April 2019 will transfer to us.
For complaints already with the Legal Ombudsman, we’ll consider what’s happened in line with the Legal Ombudsman scheme rules, which are on its website.
If a complaint is about events that happened on or after 1 April, it can be brought directly to us. We’ll handle the complaint in line with our rules, which are published as part of the FCA’s Handbook – in the section Dispute Resolution: complaints
We won’t be able to deal with complaints that have already been concluded by the Legal Ombudsman.
We will have a team of investigators who will look into the complaints we receive about CMCs. They’ll be led by a group of experienced ombudsmen who have the legal power to resolve and decide complaints.
As for financial businesses, a CMC’s final response is its last word on their customer’s concerns. Among other things, it tells the customer where they can take their complaint if they’re still unhappy.
For both us and the Legal Ombudsman, there’s a six-month time limit to make a referral. So depending on when the customer complains, a final response written before 1 April may give details for the Legal Ombudsman or us – or possibly both. From 1 April 2019, a final response will only need to give our details.
From 1 April, final responses will need to follow the FCA’s rules – which include sending our leaflet with final response letters. The leaflets you’ll need can be ordered on our website.
Yes, we will. CMCs will still be able to refer cases to us on behalf of consumers. But from 1 April 2019 our case handlers who deal with complaints about CMCs won’t deal with any complaints where the consumer is represented by a CMC, to address the possible risks of conflicts of interest.