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.
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 the Channel Islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.
The customer should first take up the complaint with the FSP concerned. If the customer is dissatisfied with the FSP’s reply, the customer may be able to refer the complaint 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.
It is the European Commission’s 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.
Broadly, FSPs 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).
The event that gave rise to the complaint must have happened on or after 1 January 2010 (if the financial services were provided in or from Jersey) or 2 July 2013 (if the financial services were provided in or from Guernsey/Alderney/Sark).
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. The complainant must also refer the complaint to CIFO within 6 months of receiving the FSP’s final decision to their complaint.
CIFO handles enquiries from complainants and FSPs to help them resolve issues between themselves, and to help resolve complaints based on misunderstandings.
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.
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 the necessary case investigation, a recommendation may be issued by a CIFO member of staff which will tell the parties, based on demonstrable evidence, professional experience and judgement the reasons for the recommendation of how to resolve the case. Both parties can accept or reject this.
Following any necessary investigation, if considered appropriate by CIFO a provisional decision may be issued which will tell the parties what CIFO is minded to decide. The parties can accept or reject this. If either party rejects the provisional decision, an ombudsman will consider any further representations from the parties and then issue a final decision.
There is no appeal against an ombudsman’s decision. If the complainant accepts the decision, it will become legally binding on both parties. If the complainant does not accept an 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. An ombudsman can award compensation, payable by the FSP, up to a maximum limit of £150,000.
If you wish to complain to an ombudsman about a financial service, usually you should complain to the ombudsman in the country where the financial services were provided: