By the time you ask this question it is
likely that your dispute has been a long-running affair and
there is no solution in sight. You may feel very frustrated
and see the Scheme as your last opportunity to have your voice
The Scheme covers individuals, partnerships
and small companies with an annual turnover of less than £1
million. It is limited to claims not exceeding £100,000.
Once the Ombudsman agrees to look at your
case, the first step will be an attempt to settle the dispute
by conciliation. If this does not work, your complaint will
be passed to the Investigation Department.
An adjudicator will review all the evidence
supplied by both you and the bank before reaching his decision.
On average this takes about seven months, though some cases
can drag on for years.
If either party is unhappy with the
decision of the Adjudicator, they can seek a review by the
Ombudsman himself. His final decision is binding on the bank,
though the claimant is still free to pursue the matter in
the courts if still not satisfied.
The Ombudsman and his staff see themselves
as independent and have said that where doubt exists, they
will always try to err in favour of the customer. They do
try to be helpful and they have settled many disputes.
But the scheme is financed by the major banks and, as such,
it can be argued that it is not truly independent. In common
with most Ombudsman schemes, it is the industry's own "policeman".
The Ombudsman's Office acts in a quasi-judicial
role. Its investigating officers are normally solicitors and
they can only reach a decision based on the facts placed before
them. Therefore, it is most important that you include all
the relevant points in your submission.
If you are not used to this legal
style of approach, this procedure may suit the bank rather