- 2009: Jersey’s States Assembly gave approval for drafting a financial services ombudsman law.
- 2011: The Jersey Department consulted on the financial services ombudsman scheme and Jersey law drafting began.
- 2012: The Jersey Department and industry working groups considered approaches for funding the ombudsman scheme and estimates of complaints volumes.
- 2014: The Financial Services Ombudsman (Jersey) Law 2014 was: approved by Jersey’s States Assembly; approved by the Privy Council; and registered in the Royal Court.
- 2015: The legislation came into full force on 16 November.
- 2011: The Guernsey Department consulted on a financial services ombudsman scheme.
- 2012: The Guernsey Department and industry working groups considered approaches for funding the ombudsman scheme and estimates of complaints volumes.
- 2013: A States Report was approved by Guernsey’s States and Guernsey law drafting began.
- 2014: The Financial Services Ombudsman (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2014 was: approved by Guernsey’s States, Alderney’s States and Sark’s Chief Pleas; and approved by the Privy Council.
- 2015: The law was registered in the Royal Court. Its full provisions came into force on 16 November.
The Jersey and Guernsey laws and secondary legislation are in similar terms – so that the scope and operations of CIFO is the same across the Channel Islands.
Secondary legislation in Jersey and in Guernsey specifies which financial services providers are covered by CIFO; gives the board of CIFO power to make schemes to set levies and case fees; specifies who is eligible to complain; and brings the complaint-handling provisions into force.
CIFO is a joint operation, which operates from a shared office in Jersey, with the same board members and staff. The Jersey Minister and the Guernsey Department appoint the board. The board appoints the ombudsman.
The board is part-time and non-executive, with four members(4). It is independent of the States. The board is not involved in deciding cases, nor the day-to-day management of CIFO. Its key roles are to:
- appoint the ombudsman and help safeguard his/her independence;
- help ensure that that CIFO has adequate resources to handle its work;
- oversee the efficiency and effectiveness of CIFO; and
- advise on the strategic direction of CIFO.
Principal Ombudsman & Staff
CIFO’s staff includes a principal ombudsman and chief executive, a manager of administration and stakeholder relations, an administration officer, and one or more case handlers depending on complaint volumes.
The board appointed Douglas Melville as the principal ombudsman and chief executive(5), who took up the post on 1 June 2015. The principal ombudsman and chief executive is responsible for the dual role of ombudsman as decision-maker with respect to complaints as well as directing the day-to-day operation of the office. The appointment of the Ombudsman is made on a renewable term of five years.
CIFO’s experienced and professional staff is drawn from a variety of fields and disciplines such as law, administration, public policy, finance, banking, insurance and investments. Our staff are committed to conscientious, fair and timely dispute resolution, which is evident in their dealings with all parties.
Our small team based in Jersey responds to initial enquiries and complaints that are received by phone, email, online, letters and faxes each year. Our manager of administration and stakeholder relations oversees outreach and communication activities and is responsible for the operation of the office. Case handlers deal directly on a daily basis with complainants and financial services providers to resolve complaints through mediation and, when required, investigation of the facts to reach a final conclusion about the merits of a complaint and what would be fair and reasonable compensation to return the complainant to the position they would have been in if the matter complained about had not occurred.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Guernsey Department and the Jersey Minister, the overall cost of CIFO will be split equally between the two bailiwicks for the first few years, until there are sufficient data to show how the workload is actually divided.
The laws provide for the cost of CIFO is to be paid by the financial industry, through a combination of levies and case fees. A consultation on the details of the funding by the Guernsey Department(6) and the Jersey Department(7) closed on 14 November 2014.
Guernsey and Jersey are each lending CIFO money to cover the start-up and initial operating costs. CIFO will repay the loans from the levy that it collects from the financial industry.
CIFO published its funding schemes on 9 September 2015 (8). Broadly, all financial services providers that are within the scope of CIFO and are regulated or registered by GFSC or JFSC (and so whose identities are already known) will pay a yearly levy – to cover the yearly running costs and, in the first year, the set-up costs. But financial services providers that do not provide relevant financial services or do not deal with the public can claim an exemption in the form of a zero rating.
Because of the transactional nature of banking business, it is expected that banks will produce a significant proportion of cases. So half the levy for annual running costs in each bailiwick will be payable by the banks in that bailiwick, with the rest divided amongst other types of financial services providers.
Any financial services providers about which a case is referred to CIFO will pay a case fee – a £200 case fee for those financial services providers that have paid a levy and a £600 case fee for those financial services providers that have not paid a levy.