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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