Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman one year on

The independent Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) celebrated its first anniversary yesterday (16 November 2016). It received its full legal powers on 16 November 2015 and began work resolving complaints about financial services impartially and promptly.

By the end of September 2016, CIFO had received 1,152 complaints. As an alternative to going to court, the service is informal, confidential, free and legal representation is not required.

You can find information about the work of CIFO on www.ci-fo.org, including quarterly news reports on complaint numbers and case studies. A full review of the year will be published in the 2016 CIFO annual report.

Staff held a charity cake sale to mark the one year anniversary and raised £100 for the Guernsey Alzheimer’s Association and Mind Jersey.

Anyone wishing to find out more can contact CIFO:

By phone: 01534 748610 or 01481 722218

By email: enquiries@ci-fo.org

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) is Open for Business

Effective 16 November 2015, the office is open for business and will begin reviewing unresolved complaints between consumers about financial services provided in or from the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. Consumers with questions or complaints are encouraged to review the Submit a Complaint section of CIFO’s website at www.ci-fo.org or contact the office at enquiries@ci-fo.org or by telephone at:

Jersey  01534 748610
Guernsey 01481 722218
International +44 1534 748610
Facsimile: +44 1534 747629

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman announces planned opening date

Jersey’s States Assembly and Guernsey’s States of Deliberation are to consider legislation that sets the 16th of November 2015 as the date that the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) will ‘open for business’ and start resolving complaints about financial services.

CIFO is a pan-Channel Islands organisation set up by law in the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey to resolve complaints about financial services provided in or from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. The office is independent and will provide an informal, speedy, effective and free alternative to going to court for complainants.

CIFO will cover events from 1 January 2010 (if the financial services provider was in Jersey) or 2 July 2013 (if the financial services provider was in Guernsey/Alderney/Sark). Time limits for referring complaints may apply. This is particularly important for Jersey complaints relating to events in 2010 that have not already been considered by the financial services provider. Such complaints should be promptly referred to the financial services provider. If the complaint remains unresolved, then it should be referred promptly to CIFO once the office opens.

CIFO will not have powers to investigate complaints until the 16th of November, subject to approval by the Jersey States Assembly and Guernsey States of Deliberation. Those with unresolved complaints that have already been raised with their financial services provider may notify CIFO of their complaint in advance of the office opening by post or by email. A confirmation of receipt by CIFO will be issued and our staff will follow-up once the office is open.

Advance notice of complaints may be sent by post to:

CHANNEL ISLANDS FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN
P O Box 114, Jersey, Channel Islands JE4 9QG

Or by email to:

Complaints@ci-fo.org

Further information is available at www.ci-fo.org.

Douglas Melville, Principal Ombudsman and Chief Executive, said –

“The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman will soon be in operation. We are finalising our preparations to be able to start resolving complaints on the 16th of November 2015. In the meantime, it is very important that anyone who would like to refer a complaint has already raised the issue directly to their financial services provider and given the provider an opportunity to resolve the matter. Although we will not have the powers to start work on complaints, people may send us the details of their complaints in advance of the opening date for action once the full powers are in force.

“We are putting the practical arrangements for the new complaint handling service in place and we are working with the Jersey Department of Economic Development and Guernsey Department of Commerce and Employment to ensure the necessary legal framework is in place.”

Notes for editors

The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman will resolve complaints about financial services. It is the joint operation of the bodies created by the Financial Services Ombudsman (Jersey) Law 2014 and the Financial Services Ombudsman (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2014 (‘the Laws’).

The Financial Services Ombudsman (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2014 (Commencement) (No. 2) Ordinance 2015 will be considered by the States of Deliberation. The Financial Services Ombudsman (Jersey) Law 2014 (Appointed Day) (No. 3) Act 201- has been lodged for debate in the States Assembly. If approved by the States of Deliberation and the States Assembly these would bring the remaining provisions of the Laws into effect in both Bailiwicks on the 16th of November 2015.

The Financial Ombudsman will cover events from 1 January 2010 (if the financial services provider was in Jersey) or 2 July 2013 (if the financial services provider was in Guernsey/Alderney/Sark).

Complaints will need to be referred to CIFO within 6 years of the event complained of or within 2 years of when the issue became apparent. The financial services provider must have been given a reasonable opportunity to deal with the complaint before it is referred to CIFO. Under the Laws, the reasonable timeframe for financial services providers to investigate complaints is no more than 3 months. The Ombudsman is preparing guidelines for providers on complaint handling which will be issued in the next couple of months.

Broadly, the Financial Ombudsman will be able to look at complaints – from individual consumers, microenterprises and (as proposed in a current consultation) small Channel Islands charities – against financial providers involved in banking, lending, money services, insurance, pensions and some types of investments.

Complaints can be taken to the Financial Ombudsman if the complainant is dissatisfied with the financial services provider’s final response to their complaint, or if the financial services provider fails to respond to the complaint.

The Financial Ombudsman will try to resolve the case by mediation. If mediation does not work, the Financial Ombudsman will investigate the case and issue a decision. If the complainant accepts the decision, it becomes legally binding on both sides. The ombudsman can require a financial services provider to pay compensation up to a maximum of £150,000.

Information on the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman is available at www.ci-fo.org.

Further information

Please contact Sophie Watkins on 01534 748612 or sophie.watkins@ci-fo.org.

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Senior Financial ombudsman selected for the Channel Islands

Douglas Melville has been appointed as Principal Ombudsman and Chief Executive by the independent board of the new Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman. He takes up his new role on 1 June 2015 and, with his wife and children, will be setting-up home in Jersey.

The Financial Ombudsman will resolve complaints by consumers and small businesses against financial firms, as an informal alternative to the courts. The service will be free for consumers and small businesses, with the costs recovered by law from financial firms.

Douglas Melville is currently the Ombudsman and Chief Executive at the Canadian Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments. He is also the current chairman of the worldwide International Network of Financial Ombudsmen, and has advised internationally on financial consumer protection for The World Bank and other public bodies.

He qualified as a lawyer in Ontario and became an ombudsman in 2006. Before that, he held senior roles in the banking, investment and insurance industries. He has also been a board member of various not-for-profit organisations covering healthcare, the environment, anti-poverty policy, financial literacy, international development and performing arts.

David Thomas, chairman of the board of the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman said –

“The board is very pleased that we have been able to recruit such an experienced and well-regarded financial ombudsman. He will fulfil a key role in helping to underpin consumer confidence in financial services in Jersey and Guernsey, enhancing the reputation of the finance sectors both locally and internationally.”

Douglas Melville said –

“I am looking forward to working with the board in completing the establishment of the Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman. Later in the year, we will announce the opening date, once the rest of the staff and the necessary systems are in place.”

Notes for editors

The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman will have legal powers to resolve complaints about financial services provided in/from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. The board members were selected jointly by the States of Jersey and the States of Guernsey. The board appoints the Principal Ombudsman and Chief Executive, on terms that secure his independence.

Douglas Melville’s CV includes:

  • Ombudsman and Chief Executive of the Canadian Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments 2009 to date (Senior Deputy Ombudsman 2006 to 2009).
  • Chairman of the worldwide International Network of Financial Ombudsmen 2013 to date. Consultant for The World Bank 2014 to date.
  • Director of payments strategy and product development at Credit Union Central of Canada 2003 to 2006. General Manager (various divisions and roles) with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce 1997 to 2003.
  • Senior policy and public affairs roles with the Canadian Bankers Association 1994 to 1997, when he led the establishment of the Canadian Banking Ombudsman, predecessor of the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments.
  • Director (various roles) and in-house legal counsel with AIC Investment Group (now part of Manulife Securities) 1993 to 1994.
  • Qualified as a lawyer in 1993. Trained as a mediator and arbitrator. Qualifications (including an MBA) from four universities in Canada and one in China.

The office will be based in Jersey and will cover events from 1 Jan 2010 (if the financial firm was in Jersey) or 2 Jul 2013 (if the financial firm was in Guernsey/Alderney/Sark). It will open for business (at the same time for both Jersey and Guernsey) during 2015.

Broadly, the Financial Ombudsman will be able to look at complaints – from individual consumers, microenterprises and small Channel Islands charities – against financial firms involved in banking, lending, money services, insurance, pensions and some types of investments.

Complaints can be taken to the Financial Ombudsman if the complainant is dissatisfied with the financial firm’s final response to their complaint, or if the financial firm has failed to respond to the complaint. The Financial Ombudsman will try to resolve the case by mediation. If mediation does not work, the Financial Ombudsman will investigate the case and issue a decision. If the complainant accepts the decision, it becomes legally binding on both sides. The ombudsman can require a financial firm to pay compensation up to a maximum of £150,000.

Further information

Please contact Sophie Watkins at Sophie.Watkins@ci-fo.org.

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