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ombudsman news

issue 44

March 2005

about this issue

We begin this issue with a round-up of some of the banking cases we have dealt with in recent months. These include the case of a couple who sought their bank’s help in protecting themselves from any adverse currency fluctuations in the period between finding a buyer for their house in the UK and moving to New Zealand. They signed an agreement that they believed gave them the option to convert the proceeds of their house sale into New Zealand dollars, at a set rate at a future date. However, before the couple had found a buyer for their house, and without consulting the couple, the bank went ahead and bought the dollars. It said the couple had not arranged an option to buy the currency but had signed a forward exchange contract that was a binding agreement.

We also feature a case where a student who had a career development loan tried to take action against his bank under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, when the training provider went out of business shortly after the student began his course. And we look at several disputes involving credit cards, including a complaint where – after £30,000 worth of purchases had been made on a company credit card in the first nine months – the company’s sole director said he had no knowledge of the card and that his signature on the application form must have been forged.

Some of the most difficult personal accident insurance cases we deal with are those where the policyholder was injured or died following surgery. In this issue we outline our approach to these cases and highlight the importance of distinguishing between cases where the complications were an unfortunate but unavoidable result of surgery – and those where the policyholder was injured because something unplanned or negligent occurred during or after the surgery.

Finally, we examine the issue of attitude to risk in mortgage endowment cases. Using recent case studies we show the importance, when assessing these complaints, of not assuming that a recommended product was suitable for the customer simply because its level of risk appears to match the customer’s attitude to risk – as noted on the "fact find" completed at the time of the sale.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 44 [PDF format]

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.