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ombudsman news

issue 93

April / May 2011

ombudsman news "Q&A" page

What is the latest situation with the judicial review on payment protection insurance (PPI)?

Judgment was handed down by the High Court in London on 20 April 2011, following the legal challenge ('judicial review') brought by the British Bankers Association (BBA) - on behalf of a number of high-street banks - against the Financial Ombudsman Service and the FSA on the approach to handling PPI complaints.

The judgment endorses the approach taken by the ombudsman and the FSA. The banks have 21 days to consider whether to appeal.

The ombudsman service continues to handle large volumes of PPI complaints from consumers. Since the legal challenge was launched in October 2010 we have been receiving up to 5,000 of these complaints each week. In total, we have received over 200,000 complaints about mis-sold PPI policies - and have upheld 3 out of 4 cases in favour of consumers.

The lack of co-operation from some financial businesses has made it difficult to progress PPI cases since the launch of this legal challenge. However, the clear-cut judgment means that banks and other financial businesses should now be in the position to deal promptly, efficiently and fairly with their customers' PPI complaints.

I read in the last Ombudsman news that you are working on a re-vamped version of your consumer leaflet. Are there similar plans for the complaint form?

In issue 92 we explained that we would shortly be launching a new version of our leaflet, your complaint and the ombudsman, with 20% less text and with more colour - in response to feedback from consumers and businesses.

We also regularly make minor changes to the text and design of the complaint form, to take account of users' suggestions and of ongoing changes to rules and procedures. We now want to review the form's readability and accessibility and, in particular, to reduce the form to three pages - from the current four. As well as making the form easier to complete, this will save a million pieces of paper a year. We can achieve this largely by re-allocating the space provided for answers, based on our observations of how consumers actually complete the form.

We also propose simplifying text; highlighting the '8-week' rule in relation to our ability to get involved at an early stage; and clarifying where consumers need to sign the declaration - in relation to joint complaints and complaints on behalf of businesses.

We've asked users and stakeholders (including the industry panel of practitioners and trade associations) for their views, and we expect the new form to be available on our website shortly. For consumers with complaints, it's generally still easier to phone us directly on 0800 023 4567 - so we can go through the form with them over the phone, and then send it to them to check, complete and sign.

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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.