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Bank watchdog to change complaints procedure (S B Post)

04 November 2011

The Financial Services Ombudsman is set to change the way it handles complaints in the wake of a recent High Court judgment.
In a statement in relation to its complaints procedure last week, the ombudsman said that ‘‘due to the High Court Judgment of July 30, 2008, the procedures for dealing with complaints are being revised and will be updated in due course’’.
Earlier this year, the body upheld a complaint made by Enfield Credit Union, which alleged that Davy Stockbrokers had mis-sold specialist bonds in which the credit union had invested €500,000.
However, in a recent High Court judgment, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said: ‘‘I am quashing by order of certiorari the decision of the Financial Services Ombudsman made on the January 21, 2008, and remitting the matter to him for the purposes of the complaint of Enfield Credit Union again being investigated and adjudicated upon.”
In his judgment, the judge made a number of recommendations regarding the complaints procedures employed by the Financial Services Ombudsman.
‘‘I am aware that, by requiring an oral hearing on a limited issue, by requiring the exchange of documents that may impact on the ultimate adjudication and by requiring a mutuality of discovery where same is necessary, that this judgment may be taken as requiring the Ombudsman to engage in a tribunal like procedure,” he said.
However, the judge said the Financial Services Ombudsman should not be hampered with procedures that would ‘‘set to nought the clear legislative provisions which make a requirement of both expedition and informality in the conduct of his affairs’’.
Deputy Ombudsman Caroline Gill confirmed that a review of procedures was under way, saying that the review would draw from the judge’s suggestions. Gill said the office of the Financial Services Ombudsman had, at all times, looked at its procedures and endeavoured to work with them to the best of their ability.
Gill did not give a specific date for the likely conclusion of the review, but said it would be conducted as ‘‘quickly as feasible’’. She said the Financial Services Ombudsman’s website and literature would be updated with changes to procedures once the review had been completed.