Concern about the mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance and other financial products is increasing. The number of complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman has risen dramatically in the past year – but they are still on a much smaller scale than in the UK.
In the last 6 months of 2012 the Financial Services Ombudsman had a 216% increase in complaints about missold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) compared to 2011.
We have written before about the ongoing Review of PPI in Ireland ordered by the Central Bank because of concerns about the misselling of policies. Not much seems to have happened with that – it has gone very quiet .We also wrote about the €4 million of PPI refunds that have already been given in Ireland by AIB and BOI.
Even though the number of PPI complaints in Ireland has risen – the number of complaints upheld is still very low. There were 1280 complaints in 2012 made to the Ombudsman about Payment Protection Insurance . Only 86 were fully investigated and only 7 of these were upheld fully and 12 partly.
The ombudsman closes many complaints before investigation – in cases where they get no further contact or where the complaint is settled or withdrawn. In manyof the cases (figures not available) – the Ombudsman can’t investigate the complaint because under current Irish law, the Financial Services Ombudsman may not investigate a matter which occurred more than six years before the complaint is made.
This six year limit is very unfair – especially in cases where the person may not have even realised they were sold PPI or they didn’t realise they couldn’t make a claim on it until many years later. The six year rule is obviously unfair in the case of other longer term financial and investment products such as endowment mortgages .
In the UK things are more sensible – people in the UK must complain to the ombudsman within six years of the sale of the PPI , or within three years of first becoming aware that they may have grounds for complaint.
The matter of the six year limit in Ireland was raised in the Dail in 2013 by TD Clare Daly who asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter about ” his plans to reform the statute of limitations so that claims can be made against financial institutions that mis-sold financial products.”
In his answer – Alan Shatter pointed out that the statutory functions of the Financial Services Ombudsman Council included keeping under review the efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the Ombudsman and advising “the Minister for Finance, either at the Minister’s request or at its own initiative, on any matter relevant to the Ombudsman’s operation”.
He went on to say that it was open to the FSO Council to make any relevant recommendations to the Minister for Finance concerning changes to the 6 year limitation period. He told Ms Daly that she would need to ask the Minister for Finance whether or not such matters have so come to his attention.
Minister Shatter didn’t say anything definite about planned changes to the statute of limitations law. He just mentioned that The Law Reform Commission made recommendations ” in relation to the limitation period applicable to contract law which could have a bearing on the misselling of financial products .”
He finished by saying that “ I will be happy to take account of these recommendations and of the Deputy’s concerns in any proposals for legislation that I may develop on periods of limitation in the future, while also taking account of any relevant developments in policy that may take place between the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman, its Council, and the Minister for Finance.”
A quick check on the FSO website tells you that these are the members of the FSO Council – so maybe these people might be able to persuade the Minister for Finance to change the rules on the 6 year limit so that consumers can get refunds and compensation for missold PPI and other products?
Dermott Jewell Chairperson ( also CEO of the Consumers’ Association of Ireland)
Michael Connolly ( Consultant)
Paddy Leydon (Bank of Ireland )
Tony Kerr ( UCD College of Business and Law)
Caitriona Ni Charra (MABS)
Frank Wynn (Irish Life & Permanent plc)