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.
CIFO has published a model complaints procedure for financial service providers. If a financial service provider follows the model procedure, or meets conditions in the law, the complainant must go to CIFO within 6 months of the provider’s final written response to the complaint.
CIFO will try to resolve the case by mediation – helping 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 facts or parties are too-deeply entrenched. CIFO’s ‘settlement’ complaint category is either mediated or determined, meaning a complaint is resolved by an ombudsman’s decision is deemed ‘determined’ and other settlements will be considered ‘mediated’.
Following necessary case investigation, a recommendation may be issued by a CIFO member of staff which will tell the parties, based on demonstrative 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 parties what CIFO is minded to decide. The parties can accept or reject this. If either party rejects the provisional decision, the ombudsman will consider any further representations from the parties and then issue a final decision.
There is no appeal against an ombudsman 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 and 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.
This is where the conclusion of CIFO’s review is that the complaint was found to have merit. Meaning the complainant was right to bring a complaint against their FSP and CIFO upheld the complaint in favour of the complainant. This is irrespective of whether the complainant gained anything by referring the complaint to CIFO.
This is where CIFO receives a complaint to review, and the outcome of that review is in favour of the FSP.
This is when CIFO receives a complaint for review, but the FSP has made a further offer to the complainant which is accepted before CIFO has fully investigated the case.
If CIFO deems it necessary to recommend compensation to a complainant when reviewing a complaint, the actual amount that CIFO recommended will be stated within CIFO’s ‘amount awarded’ category. This is the amount in sterling, irrespective of whether this is over CIFO’s mandated compensation limit of £150,000 or whether the amount recommended by CIFO was actually paid by the FSP to the complainant.