July 9 2015 saw the introduction of new complaints rules for all authorised firms, as a result of the European Union’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive.
If a firm is rejecting a complaint on the grounds that it is time barred (more than six years since the event which the complaint concerns AND more than three years since the client should reasonably have been aware of a problem), then this must be explained to the client in a final response letter.
Final response letters must continue to explain why a complaint is being accepted or rejected, and detail what redress (if any) is to be provided. The letter must now give the website address of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), as well as making the client aware of their right to refer the matter to the FOS. The need to enclose the FOS leaflet with the final response remains.
Depending on the stance the firm has taken regarding two issues, specified wording now needs to be included in the final response letter. These issues are: whether the firm will consent to the FOS considering ‘time barred’ complaints, and whether the firm will consent to the FOS handling complaints that the client refers more than six months after the final response.
There is no scope to vary this wording.
Firms also need to amend their websites so that they contain a link to the FOS website, and give an explanation of the FOS’s services.