Letter from the Group General Counsel
and Group Secretary, Barclays PLC, to the Director, British Bankers'
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 otherwisealthough 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.
22 March 1999