CIFO handles enquiries from complainants and financial services providers, to help them understand the issues, and (where appropriate) indicate the general approach CIFO would take.
This may help the parties to resolve the issue between themselves, and also head off cases based on misunderstandings.
If the complainant has not already complained to the financial services provider, CIFO will first pass the complaint to the financial services provider.
If the matter is something that is outside CIFO’s jurisdiction, it will signpost the complainant to any agency that can help.
Based on experience elsewhere, there may be four to eight times as many enquiries as cases.
As an independent third party, with relevant sector knowledge, CIFO can help the parties ‘see sense’ and come to a mutually-agreed and fair solution.
An attempt at mediation is appropriate in most cases, unless there are significant and material disputes of fact or the parties are too-deeply entrenched.
Following any necessary investigation, a provisional decision will tell the parties what CIFO is minded to decide. The parties can accept or reject this. Experience elsewhere suggests that 65% to 90% will be accepted by both parties.
If either party rejects the provisional decision, the ombudsman will consider any further representations from the parties and then issue a final decision.
Effect of decision
There is no appeal against the ombudsman’s decision.
If the complainant accepts the ombudsman’s decision, it is binding on both parties. Neither party can bring court proceedings against the other on the same issue.
If the complainant does not accept the ombudsman’s decision, it does not bind either party. Either party retains any rights they had to pursue the matter against the other in court, subject to the court’s time limits.
Like any public body, CIFO may be subject to judicial review by the relevant Royal Court.