Last year it was reported that some of the UK’s biggest banks were working on a voluntary, industry funded ombudsman scheme.

This related to complaints from businesses not covered by the extension to the redress offered by the Financial Ombudsman Service (‘FOS’) which took effect on 1 April 2019. This was in response to the Simon Walker Review, in which the need for an independent service with the ability to resolve complaints for small and medium businesses was highlighted. In particular, the need for a scheme that would address historical complaints against banks was accepted.

The resulting Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) aims to deliver an accessible and transparent service, giving eligible businesses the opportunity to have their complaint heard and independently reviewed in line with its five key principles. A live pilot is currently underway before a full launch of the service later in 2020. Customers taking part in the live pilot will receive the first determinations from the new service.

The BBRS will consider both historical and current complaints which meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria will be finalised and made available at the end of the live pilot but the assessment of eligibility will include a consideration of the following factors:-

  1. The service will only accept complaints from business registered in the UK raised by an authorised company representative on behalf of a number of corporate structures including sole traders, partnerships, trusts, charities and community interest companies.
  1. The service will accept complaints about participating banks including Lloyds Banking Group and RBS Group amongst many others.
  1. The business must have complained to its bank within the required timescale and given the bank the opportunity to resolve its dispute but the dispute must remain unresolved with the bank.

The BBRS will operate two schemes. The ‘historical scheme’ for complaints raised by a business that was previously ineligible for the FOS covering complaints from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019. The business must have a maximum annual turnover of £6.5m and total assets up to £5m. The ‘current scheme’ will be for complaints from 1 April 2019 onwards and operate above the expanded scope of the FOS accommodating businesses with a maximum annual turnover of £10m and total assets up to £7.5m.

In practical terms business owners with unresolved complaints against banks should consider the available eligibility information and those with an annual turnover of less than £6.5m should review any historic complaints dating back to 1 December 2001. If you are a business owner who needs advice on whether you should register your interest for the BBRS please get in touch with Kirsty Coggin in Lupton Fawcett’s Dispute Resolution team in Sheffield on 0114 228 3257 or kirsty.coggin@luptonfawcett.law.

 

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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