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Financial Services Ombudsman’s powers should be enhanced - Doherty

25 February, 2015 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin TD and Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said the powers of the Financial Services Ombudsman should be enhanced. He said the drop in the number of complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman could be a symptom of more and more people being disenchanted with their experiences with the Ombudsman’s processes after difficult disputes with the banks.

Deputy Doherty said:

“I commend the Financial Service Ombudsman and his office on another productive year. The naming and shaming of banks which are found to have acted wrongly is welcome too. I have argued though that the regulations here need to be further strengthened to allow the Ombudsman give a description of why the banks were named and shamed. In other words the consumer should know what they did to be named and shamed.”

“The Ombudsman’s report states that he believes the drop in the numbers complaining is linked to a more proactive engagement of complainants with the financial services. In my experience this is not telling the whole story. Anecdotally I believe this could also be linked to a sense of disenchantment because of the drawn out nature of the process and their lack of confidence that the Ombudsman will produce a fair and swift result.”

“There is a great degree of frustration among the public that financial service providers and the banks in particular still have the upper hand.”

“The Financial Services Ombudsman’s power should be bulked up so he can take a more assertive role particularly when dealing with complaints about mortgages. I have drafted legislation which would empower the Ombudsman to fulfil a greater role in defending consumers’ rights. The Bill I drafted would remove the statute of limitations which has excluded thousands of complainants, allowing a consumer appeal to the Circuit Court instead of the High Court and putting the onus on the financial service provider to engage with the consumer.” 

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