On 16 November 2015, Articles 7, 8 and 10 to 19 of the
Financial Services Ombudsman (Jersey) Law 2014 (the
Law) will come into force, and the office of the
Financial Services Ombudsman (the OFSO) will open
for the investigation of complaints from individuals in respect of
financial services provided in Jersey.
The Ombudsman will be the final arbiter in resolving such
complaints, with the aim to return the complainant to the position
they were in prior to any issue having occurred at the forefront of
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO USE THE SERVICE?
Pursuant to the terms of Article 8 of the Law, complaints can be
made by certain persons including individuals, small businesses
(defined as "microenterprises"), charities, trusts,
foundations or indeed any other person that the Minister for
Economic Development may specify from time to time following a
recommendation by the OFSO.
Whilst a complaint must relate to an act by another person in
the course of that person providing relevant financial services
business in Jersey, it should be noted that the complainant need
not be located in Jersey either at the time of the act or at the
time of lodging the complaint.
Lodging a complaint with the OFSO should offer a more accessible
alternative to court proceedings for affected individuals who
otherwise may not have had the necessary means, confidence or
experience to pursue a complaint. In particular, Article 13(2)(b)
of the Law makes it clear that, where possible, the OFSO should
seek to avoid both formality in proceedings and the need for either
party to seek legal advice.
POWERS OF THE OMBUDSMAN
The OFSO will have the power to investigate any "relevant
financial services business", as such term is defined in
Article 9 of the Law. Interestingly, this could also include any
relevant "ancillary business", including businesses that
provide introductions or referrals to service providers.
In practical terms, provided the complaint relates to an issue
that occurred after 1 January 2010, and provided the complainer has
given the respondent a reasonable opportunity to remedy the
situation before lodging an official complaint with the OFSO (up to
a maximum of three months after the issue was flagged by the
complainer to the respondent), then the OFSO will be able to
It should be noted that, pursuant to the terms of Article 15 of
the Law, any decisions made by the OFSO will be based on what is
fair and reasonable in the circumstances and so codes of practice,
best practice and industry standards will also be taken into
Potential complainants should be reassured, however, that the
OFSO will also have the discretion to grant a tangible "money
award" to compensate the complainant for any financial loss,
distress or inconvenience suffered.
Any such award would be paid by the respondent (up to a
statutory maximum of Ł150,000), so it is clear that there
will be a real degree of accountability on the part of the
financial services provider in question.
As discussed, the overall aim of the OFSO will be to return the
complainant to the position they were in prior to any issue having
occurred. The provision of an accessible inquisitorial and
arbitration service should level the playing field for consumers
without the means to otherwise challenge established financial
services providers in the market.
It remains to be seen how many claims will actually result in a
financial award being made – time will tell.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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