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ombudsman news

issue 45

April 2005

ask ombudsman news

preferential treatment- a firm of solicitors emails ...

We represent a private client who is in dispute with a financial firm. We are minded to recommend that our client take her case to the ombudsman service – primarily because we understand the ombudsman handles cases in private. Our client, who is in the public eye, doesn’t want the publicity of going to court. However, we are anxious to have the matter expedited – would our client’s special status help prioritise her case with the ombudsman-

Given the large volumes of mortgage endowment complaints we are currently receiving, most cases take between six and nine months for us to resolve. However, we consider requests to prioritise cases where the consumer might clearly be disadvantaged by having to wait – for example, through financial hardship or for medical reasons.

No such reasons appear to apply in your client’s case. And we don’t put complaints to the top of the queue just because of who the parties involved are. We make decisions on the individual facts and circumstances of a case – not on how "important" either side is or how "professionally" they argue their case.

Similarly, we don’t prioritise cases – or handle them any differently – should either party involve the press. We recognise that the firm or consumer may choose to tell their side of the story to others, including the media. But we will not divulge publicly any personal or sensitive details about an individual complaint – or discuss a specific case in public – because we are a private dispute-resolution service and we handle complaints in confidence.

cross-border complaint

I’m a UK citizen living and working in Europe. I’m in dispute with my bank. Can I bring my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service or do I need to go to a European equivalent-

Whether you can bring your complaint to us depends on where your bank is based – not on your own nationality or on where you currently live.

We cover firms that provide financial products and services in or from the UK. If your complaint is against an overseas firm, you may be able to get help from an equivalent complaint-handling body. You can check online at FIN-NET to see if there is an ombudsman scheme, or some other complaint-handling body, that covers the relevant area of financial services in the European country where you live.

There are arrangements between the complaint-handling bodies in Europe to help consumers complain to the relevant overseas scheme. If you don’t have internet access or if you experience difficulties contacting another scheme, let us know and we will try and help you.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 45 [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.