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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