On 13 February 2020, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (the “FSPO”) published a digest of legally binding decisions issued in 2019 (https://www.fspo.ie/Digest_of_Decisions) together with an accompanying Press Release. The digest includes a short summary of a selection of 33 decisions in relation to complaints made against financial service providers. The FSPO has also created an on-line database of legally binding decisions, which can be accessed at www.fspo.ie/decisions/database.
The FSPO digest informs us that the FSPO issued 439 legally binding decisions in 2019, 394 of which were published in conjunction with the latest volume of the digest of decisions. The FSPO digest states that it resolved the majority of complaints in 2019 through mediation; approximately 2,160.
The 439 legally binding decisions issued in 2019 is almost double the number of decisions issued in 2018. The FSPO states that in the case of 201 decisions, the complaint was upheld to some extent while 238 decisions were not upheld. We are informed that a total of six of all 673 FSPO decisions issued to date have been appealed by the parties to the High Court. Of the 439 decisions issued in 2019, five were appealed to the High Court.
We are also informed that the FSPO will issue the 2019 overview of complaints shortly, in March 2020, which will include a breakdown of all complaints closed in 2019, an analysis of those complaints and a report on named financial service providers.
The FSPO database of legally binding decisions now provides us with a valuable tool in that it holds the full text of more than 600 of the FSPO’s written decisions in relation to complaints against financial service providers since January 2018. The FSPO states that it will continue to add decisions on an ongoing basis, including in the coming weeks.
The FSPO deals with a wide range of complaints relating to insurance, banking, credit facilities and investments as well as pensions. In the recent Press Release, it has listed specific examples of directions made by the Ombudsman, Ger Deering, in 2019, such as compensation of €15,000 to an individual after a lender failed to update his Irish Credit Bureau rating and compensation of €35,000 to a couple after a bank overcharged them interest and failed to clearly state the correct interest rate on their loan.
The FSPO’s published digest of legally binding decisions includes, as mentioned above, 33 legally binding decisions split into the following sectors: banking, insurance, investment, and pensions. The digest of decisions relating to the insurance industry sets out the factual circumstances of each complaint, including the following examples:
- a car insurance policy being cancelled because of an incorrect date recorded for a driver’s licence;
- a dispute regarding the value of stolen property;
- a car insurance policy being cancelled due to non-disclosure of an accident; and
- a rejection of an insurance claim for damage caused by burst pipes in the home.
Publication by the FSPO of its digest of decisions from 2019 is welcomed and provides transparency as to the processes and procedures of the FSPO as well as the factors considered in order to reach each legally binding decision.
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