Up until last month – if anyone wanted to complain to the Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) about the conduct of a financial institution – there was a strict 6 year time limit in place. If someone had a problem with things like Insurance , PPI or a Mortgages , if the product was sold to you more than 6 years ago – you could not lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman.
There were probably several thousand people who were missold Payment Protection Insurance or other financial products who could not get the help of the FSO because of this time limit.
New legislation has finally come into force (July 26th) which will give some consumers more time to make a complaint. One question might be – Why did it Take So Long ?
The original 6 year limit is still in place for short term financial services (Not lasting more than 5 years)
But – for all pension products, and for longer term financial services (where the duration of the service is 5 years and one month, or more) ,complaints can be made:
i) six years from the date of the act or conduct giving rise to the complaint
ii) three years from the earlier of the following two dates:
- the date on which the person making the complaint first became aware of the said act or conduct, and
- the date on which that person ought to have become aware of that act or conduct.
iii) within such longer period as the Ombudsman may allow where it appears to him or her that there are reasonable grounds for requiring a longer period .
There are also a couple of extra conditions:
- The new time limits for long term financial services will only apply to complaints about conduct that occurred after 2001
- Also – the service or product being complained about must not have expired more than six years before the date of complaint.
These new rules bring Ireland closer into line with the process in the UK. This new three year time limit applies to pensions and other ‘long term’ financial products such as insurance and mortgages . The new rules may be particularly relevant to anyone affected by the mis-selling of products like mortgages and payment protection insurance policies.
In practice, it means that the right to complain will no longer just be confined to a six year period from when a loan or policy was sold .
but also three years from when a problem became known with it.
In addition the Ombudsman now has discretion to allow a longer period where there are reasonable grounds.
Any complaints to the FSO that were previously ruled out because of the six year rule can now be resubmitted .
We expect thousands of people to start looking again at things like missold PPI and Credit Card payment Protection .
The Financial Ombudsman is expecting lots of extra complaints and is already asking consumers to be patient while they deal with them.
In all cases of complaints about financial products – consumers should first contact the bank or finance company involved. If the consumer is not happy with the response from the company – they should take it to the Financial Ombudsman.
See here for our previous articles about Missold PPI Refunds