‘Thousands will benefit’ as Doherty’s Bill to end the six year rule passes
Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has welcomed the passing of his Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2014. The Bill ends the blanket six year rule preventing consumers from making a complaint against financial institutions if six years have elapsed. Thousands of people will now be free to re-apply to the Financial Services Ombudsman to have their case heard if they suspect any wrongdoing on the part of financial institutions.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I am delighted this Bill has now passed. It is the first opposition Bill to pass this Dáil that was initiated by a member of the opposition.
“Thousands of people each year who are prevented from pursuing allegations of wrongdoing against financial institutions will now be allowed access to justice through the Financial Services Ombudsman. Figures from the Ombudsman’s office show up to a thousand people every year are barred from the process because of the 6 year rule. We know that thousands more have not applied because they had been advised that the 6 year rule would apply.
“This rule only operated to the benefit of the banks and other financial institutions who were shielded from investigation by it if the complaint related to something that happened more than 6 years ago.
“My legislation will now redress that imbalance with consumers empowered to make a complaint within three years of becoming aware of possible wrongdoing.
“Critically, thousands of people previously refused access to the process will now be allowed resubmit their complaint because the legislation is retrospective in nature. As soon as the Bill is signed into law those thousands of people can re-apply.
“This will come as very welcome news and a massive relief to the many consumers who have contacted me looking for an opportunity to have their complaint heard.
“I wish to particularly commend the work of the Free Legal Advice Centre and their Senior Policy Analyst Paul Joyce whose work in drafting the report- “Redressing the Imbalance” forms the basis of this new law.
“This Bill brings new hope to thousands who feel aggrieved by the actions of banks, insurers and other financial institutions. I urge those people previously refused access because of the 6 year rule to re-apply and the countless others who didn’t apply because of their awareness of the to re-submit their case.
“I will be monitoring the resources available to the Ombudsman and will push for further resourcing if necessary to deal with these new cases.”
Other provisions in the Bill include:
· A greater range of finings can be made by the ombudsman.
· There will now be three possible findings (out of four)- upheld, substantially upheld and partially upheld that count as ‘strikes’ under the ‘name and shame’ provision.
· A greater requirement for the Ombudsman to engage in mediation when dealing with complaints.
· A longer period in which a consumer can appeal a decision of the Ombudsman to the High Court.