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ombudsman news

issue 19

August 2002

about this issue of ombudsman news

Recent issues of ombudsman news have focused on the work of our assessment teams. In this edition we look at the work of the banking and loans investigation teams. We also:

  • provide the usual summary of recent cases;
  • welcome the Business Banking Code, which came into force on 31 March 2002; and
  • look at the situation where firms increase customers' credit limits without any further assessment of their creditworthiness.

The more that firms and consumer advisers understand how we work, the more effective we can be. That is the background to the working together series of conferences that we are running from July to December this year, at venues across the country. Among other things, the conferences give firms the opportunity to learn more about our approach to assessing compensation for distress and inconvenience, and to discuss sample cases.

In addition to the large number of "dual" variable mortgage rate cases that continue to reach us, the period from January to May 2002 saw a significant increase in the number of "ordinary" banking and loans cases we received - although numbers started to fall back somewhat in June.

This may simply be the result of the time limits laid down in the complaint-handling rules of the Financial Services Authority, which mean that firms must now issue a final response letter on a complaint within eight weeks - and that customers can refer the matter to us after that time if they remain dissatisfied. A number of firms tell us they are receiving about the same number of complaints as before, but are issuing more final response letters.

But if firms do see an increase - generally or in some particular area - we hope they will forewarn us so we are prepared. We appreciate that an increase does not necessarily mean there are more problems. Firms may simply be publicising their complaint procedures better.

David Thomas
principal ombudsman
banking and loans

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

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.