Legal basis
The Financial Services Ombudsman (Jersey) Law 2014 and the Financial Services Ombudsman (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2014 each provide for a Financial Ombudsman, independent of the States. The full powers came into effect on 16 November 2015.

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO)
The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) is a joint operation of the two statutory ombudsman roles – operating from a shared office in Jersey, with the same board, ombudsman and staff. It covers financial services provided in/from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.

How is CIFO paid for?
The cost of CIFO is met by the financial industry, through annual levies and case fees. CIFO has published schemes detailing how it is funded. The Jersey and Guernsey States provided interim loans for start-up capital before funding was received from the industry.

If a customer has a complaint against a financial services provider
The customer should first take up the complaint with the financial services provider concerned. If the customer is dissatisfied with the financial services provider’s reply, the customer may be able to refer the complaint to CIFO.

Who is able to complain to CIFO?
Broadly, CIFO is able to look at complaints from individual consumers and microenterprises whether or not they are in the Channel Islands – plus small Channel Islands charities.

What is a micro-enterprise?
It is a Europe-wide definition for a small business or economic enterprise (including a sole trader, partnership or company) that employs fewer than 10 people and does not have a yearly turnover or balance sheet of more than 2 million Euro.

Which financial services providers can they complain about?
Broadly, financial services providers involved in banking, lending, money services, insurance, pensions and investments – excluding the managers/functionaries of funds that are not recognized funds (Jersey) or class A funds (Guernsey/Alderney and Sark).

How far back can CIFO go?
The event that gave rise to the complaint must have happened on or after 1 January 2010 (if the financial services were provided from Jersey) or 2 July 2013 (if the financial services were provided from Guernsey/Alderney/Sark).

Complaint-handling by financial services providers
CIFO has published a model complaints procedure for financial services providers. If a financial services provider follows the model procedure, or meets conditions in the law, the complainant must go to CIFO within 6 months of the services provider’s final response to the complaint.

Are there other time limits?
The complaint must be brought to CIFO within 6 years of the event or – if it is later than that – within 2 years from when the complainant should have known that there was reason to complain.

Handling enquiries
CIFO handles enquiries from complainants and financial services providers, to help them resolve issues between themselves, and to head off cases based on misunderstandings. Experience elsewhere shows only one in four to eight enquiries turns into a case.

Handling cases
CIFO will try to resolve the case by mediation – helping the parties to reach a fair settlement. If mediation does not work, CIFO will investigate the case and issue a decision.

What will be the effect of an ombudsman’s decision?
If the complainant accepts the decision, it will become legally binding on both parties. The ombudsman can award compensation, payable by the financial services provider, up to a maximum limit of £150,000.

Boundaries with other financial ombudsmen
If you wish to complain to an ombudsman about a financial service, usually you should complain to the ombudsman in the country from which the financial services were provided:

  • in/from the Channel Islands = Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman
  • in/from the United Kingdom = Financial Ombudsman Service (1)
  • in/from Ireland = Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (2)
  • in/from the Isle of Man = Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (3)
1 www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
2 www.fspo.ie 
3 www.gov.im/oft/ombudsman/welcome.xml

You can find details about financial ombudsman and complaint handling bodies around the world at the International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes.

You can find details of ombudsman and complaint handling bodies that resolve complaints about financial services in Europe from FIN-NET.

Details of ombudsman and complaint handling bodies for all types of goods and services covering the UK, Republic of Ireland and British Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies can be obtained from the Ombudsman Association.