The self-regulatory body for general insurance, the General Insurance Standards Council, has left 10,000 independent financial advisers just two weeks to reply to its consultation document.

IFAs were only sent the document this week. Critics of the GISC have seized on the news to declare the consultation a shambles and call for the deadline to be extended until the end of February.

"It takes time to respond to such a woolly document," said Andrew Paddick, director general of broker trade body the IIB.

"The IIB has called to see the GISC draft rules and application notes before we issue a response. GISC is rushing this consultation and going with undue haste and carelessness."

About 10,000 IFAs who sell general insurance now have little more than two weeks to file a response before the December 31 deadline.

Some IFAs complain that it will be impossible to make a proper assessment of the proposals and reply given the short time span.

And they point out that the Christmas post, the busiest time of the year for the Royal Mail, has made the problem far worse.

"Sending out the consultation document so late in the day just makes it a mockery. It has been a shambles," said David Martin of Wraysbury Insurance, the proprietor of both a general insurance firm and an IFA, who received his document this week.

The GISC admits it has struggled to identify a database of general insurance sellers, but says it is confident that the vast bulk of them have now been issued the document.

"People imagine there is a database of all the general insurance sellers in the country, but the fact is there is no such thing," said head of communications Catherine Nicoll.

For instance, GISC has had to pay £10,000 to a commercial company for the database of 10,000 IFAs who sell general insurance.

Nicoll says people should write their comments in brief to the GISC with an explanation that a full response will come later if they feel they have not enough time before the deadline.

The GISC first came under fire for failing to distribute the consultation document in October, when it ran a series of poorly-attended roadshows.

The original plan not to distribute the documents before the roadshows in a bid to generate more interest in them backfired after fewer than 50 people attended the first roadshow in Glasgow.