The new single ombudsman scheme took a step closer to fruition this week when the Financial Services Authority published the draft rules.

There are five key proposals with which all FSA authorised firms will need to comply. They should:

  • publish complaints procedures and make them easily available to consumers.
  • investigate complaints promptly and effectively within a maximum of eight weeks.
  • inform customers who remain dissatisfied at the end of the complaints process of the new ombudsman service
  • keep records of all complaints for a minimum period of six years
  • submit returns to the FSA on the number and type of complaints and the length of time taken to resolve them.

    The new scheme will be available to private individuals, small businesses with a turnover of less than £1m and third parties in specified circumstances.

    It will be limited to making awards of up to £100,000.

    The draft rules for funding the new scheme will be published later in the year but the scheme is expected to have an annual budget in the region of £20m for around 400 staff and approximately 15 to 20 ombudsman.

    Comments on the draft rules must be returned to the FSA by August 31, 2000.

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