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ombudsman news

issue 12

December 2001

savings accounts

tax exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) update

To re-cap the story so far, in September 2000 we issued a briefing note, indicating the approach we were likely to take on complaints that reached us.

Banks took note of our likely approach. Some decided they would probably "lose" and settled individual complaints with their customers. Others decided they were likely to "win" and by and large they proved to be right.

Most building societies preferred us to investigate. Preliminary decisions have been issued in all but one of the "lead cases" (we explain "lead cases"). The societies "lost" in about three-quarters of these. About half of those societies appealed against the decision. The outcomes of all the ombudsman final decisions issued so far have been the same as the preliminary decisions.

Two of the societies had threatened legal action if the ombudsman's final decisions went against them. The final decisions did go against those societies.

One of these societies, after studying the final decision in its case, decided to accept it after all. It continued to disagree with the ombudsman's view, but settled all its other cases in line with the ombudsman's decision.

The other society asked for the ombudsman's decision to be referred to the High Court because, it said, the decision contained errors of law. That process is likely to take some months.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

For printed copies of this or any of our publications, phone 020 7964 0092 or email publications.

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.