Changes to DISP come in to force on 9 July

30 June 2015


This article was originally published in the June 2015 edition of Motor Finance.

Following its joint consultation with the Financial Ombudsman Service in December 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its final rules (Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive Instrument 2015 FCA2015/25 FOS 2015/1) making changes to the Dispute Resolution: Complaints sourcebook (DISP).

These changes will implement the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive (ADR Directive) which comes into force in Member States (including the UK) on 9 July 2015.

From 9 July the changes to DISP will be effective and firms across all financial services sectors will be required to comply with the changes, but only in relation to complaints received from that date onwards.

Some of the key changes

  • DISP 2.8.1R will be amended so that the Ombudsman Service will be able to consider complaints made directly to it where the firm has not itself investigated the complaint, but only if both the firm and the consumer consent. The consumer must first have been told that the firm might deal with the complaint more quickly than the Ombudsman Service itself.
  • The current time limits in the rules have been preserved but firms will be allowed to consent to the Ombudsman Service considering a complaint if it is referred outside the relevant time limits (DISP 2.8.2R(5)). However, where a complaint falls within the scope of a consumer redress scheme, the relevant firm may not consent to waive the time limits under DISP 2.8.2R(5) unless the firm and the consumer agree to disapply the consumer redress scheme for that particular complaint.
  • Firms will be required to tell consumers in final response letters whether or not they consent to the Ombudsman Service considering a complaint if it is referred more than six months after the date of the final response. Prescribed wording for doing so is provided in new Annex 3R in DISP 1.
  • There will be a new rule (DISP 2.8.2AR) which provides that, if a firm consents to the Ombudsman Service considering a complaint outside the time limits, it may not subsequently withdraw that consent. The FCA's April 2015 Handbook Notice provides that this rule will create certainty for consumers and ensure that the Ombudsman Service does not waste resources reviewing a case when a firm could subsequently withdraw consent. If a firm considers that possible time limit issues could arise in relation to a particular complaint, it can refuse to provide consent for the Ombudsman Service to consider the complaint in the response to the consumer (rather than providing consent then subsequently withdrawing it).
  • The definition of 'eligible complainant' will be extended to ensure consistency with the ADR Directive. From 9 July, it will include professional clients and eligible counterparties, where the person is an individual acting for purposes outside his trade, business, craft or profession.

Comment

Though these changes are generally technical ones to ensure compliance with the ADR Directive, Motor Finance companies should familiarise themselves with the forthcoming changes, particularly the prescribed wording, and take steps to ensure that they will comply with those changes in relation to complaints received from 9 July 2015 onwards.


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