Financial Services and Markets Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Group General Counsel and Group Secretary, Barclays PLC, to the Director, British Bankers' Association

  Thank you for your letter of 8 March. I have reviewed the proposal with colleagues internally and we have the following comments with reference to the points you raise.

  It would be a mistake to remove the right to appeal to the courts on a point of law, both for consumers and providers. Although it is, obviously, very important indeed that consumers understand that appeal is only possible on a point of law (or, indirectly, by way of judicial review) and that the system is not abused it must be right in principle that a wrong decision by the Ombudsman is able to be appealed and that, as a consequence, redress to consumers is delayed.

  In principle it seems to be right that there should be consistency of treatment for customers of all non-mortgage lending providers although it also seems difficult to argue that the financial services Ombudsman's jurisdiction should not extend to all financial services whether provided by authorised persons or otherwise—although I do not know whether this would be achievable within the current terms of the FSMB.

  On balance we do not think it is right that complainants should not have to bear costs when they have behaved unreasonably or improperly although we recognise the desirability of attracting complainants to use the Ombudsman system rather than resorting to court. Nevertheless, it seems that where there is abuse of the system by a complainant they should be made to pay the costs of the other parties and I would therefore favour leaving the Bill as currently drafted although it is important to make it clear that this is not intended to be any sort of block to complainants using the Ombudsman system in the normal course of events.

  It is right that the FSA should have a discretion to exclude certain categories or regulated firms.

  If you wish to discuss any of the above please let me know.

Howard Trust

22 March 1999

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