Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 307–333 | Cite as

Ombudsman schemes in the United Kingdom's financial sector: The insurance ombudsman, the banking ombudsman, and the building societies ombudsman

  • Philip Rawlings
  • Chris Willett
Articles

Abstract

The problems facing consumers in pursuing complaints against suppliers through the courts are well known and have given rise to the development of alternative strategies. This paper considers the development and use of one such strategy — the ombudsman — in dealing with the complaints of consumers against insurers, banks and building societies. The decisions to create these schemes can be seen against a background of the radical changes in the financial markets during the 1980s. However, the practice of the different ombudsmen is also influenced by the history, rules, practices and commercial contexts of their respective industries. It is argued, for instance, that the ombudsmen have developed standards of fairness which enable them to step outside established law and practice. However, the extent to which each is willing to do this may depend on the history and legal context of the relationships which a particular sector has had with its customers.

Keywords

Economic Policy Financial Market Financial Sector Alternative Strategy Radical Change 

Ombudsmann-Regelungen im Finanzsektor GroΒbritanniens: Die Ombudspersonen für Versicherungen, für Banken und für Wohnbaugenossenschaften

Zusammenfassung

Die Schwierigkeiten, die Konsumenten haben, wenn sie Beschwerden gegen Anbieter auf gerichtlichem Wege klären lassen wollen, sind gut bekannt und waren Anla\ für die Entwicklung alternativer Strategien. Der Beitrag behandelt eine dieser Alternativen — den Ombudsmann — bei der Behandlung von Verbraucherbeschwerden gegenüber Versicherern, Banken und Wohnbaugenossen-schaften. Die Entscheidungen, die zur Schaffung dieser Regelung geführt haben, sind vor allem vor dem Hintergrund der starken Veränderungen auf den Finanzmärkten in den 80er Jahren zu sehen. Dabei wird das praktische Vorgehen der Ombudspersonen von der Entstehungsgeschichte, von Gewohnheiten und Praktiken und vom wirtschaftlichen Zusammenhang ihrer jeweiligen Branche beeinflu\t. So haben die Ombudspersonen zum Beispiel Richtlinien für Fairne\ entwickelt, die ihnen auch Möglichkeiten au\erhalb der etablierten Bereiche des Rechts und der Praxis eröffnen. Allerdings hängt die Bereitschaft des einzelnen Ombudsmannes, solche Möglichkeiten zu ergreifen, von der Geschichte und dem rechtlichen Kontext der Beziehungen ab, die seine Branche mit ihren Kunden gehabt hat.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bell, C., & Vaughan, J. W. (1989). The Building Societies Ombudsman: A customers' champion?Solicitors Journal, 132, 1478–1480.Google Scholar
  2. Birds, J. (1982). Reform of insurance law.Journal of Business Law, 1982, 449–459.Google Scholar
  3. Birds, J. (1987). Self-regulation and insurance contracts. In: F. D. Rose (Ed.),New foundations for insurance law, pp. 1–18. London: Stevens.Google Scholar
  4. Birds, J. (1988).Modem insurance law. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  5. Birds, J., & Graham, C. (1988). Complaints mechanisms in the financial services industry.Civil Justice Quarterly, 7, 313–329.Google Scholar
  6. Birrell, J. (1991). New legislation for building societies.CBSI Journal, 45(206), 2–4.Google Scholar
  7. Borrie, G. (1989). The regulation of public and private power.Public Law, 1989, 552–567.Google Scholar
  8. Building Societies Association (1983).The future constitution and powers of building societies. London: Building Societies Association.Google Scholar
  9. Building Societies Ombudsman (1989).Annual report 1988–89. London: Building Societies Ombudsman.Google Scholar
  10. Building Societies Ombudsman (1990).Annual report 1989–90. London: Building Societies Ombudsman.Google Scholar
  11. Building Societies Ombudsman (1991).Annual report 1990–91. London: Building Societies Ombudsman.Google Scholar
  12. Building Societies Ombudsman (1993).Annual report 1992–93. London: Building Societies Ombudsman.Google Scholar
  13. Cadogan, I., & Lewis, R. (1992). Do insurers know best?Anglo-American Law Review, 21, 123–137.Google Scholar
  14. Edell, S. B. (1989). The Building Societies Ombudsman scheme: A legal innovation.The Conveyancer, 58, 253–260.Google Scholar
  15. Edell, S. B. (1992). The Ombudsman scheme — Five years on.Mortgage Finance Gazette Conference, 124(1513), 16–17.Google Scholar
  16. Ellis, B. (1992). Ombudsmen: Whose interests do they represent?Solicitors Journal, 136, 926.Google Scholar
  17. Ellis, T. H., & Wiltshire, J. A. (1990).Regulation of insurance in the United Kingdom and Ireland. London: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  18. Graham, C., Seneviratne, M., & James, R. (1993). Publicising the Bank and Building Societies Ombudsman schemes.Consumer Policy Review, 3, 85–91.Google Scholar
  19. H. M. Government (1990).Banking services: Law and practice. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Command 1026.Google Scholar
  20. Hodgin, R. W. (1987).Insurance intermediaries and the law. London: Lloyds of London.Google Scholar
  21. Hodgin, R. W. (1989).Protection of the insured. London: Lloyds of London.Google Scholar
  22. Hodgin, R. W. (1992). Ombudsman and other complaints procedures in the financial services sector in the United Kingdom.Anglo-American Law Review, 21, 1–19.Google Scholar
  23. Insurance Ombudsman Bureau (1989).Annual report for 1989. London: Insurance Ombudsman Bureau.Google Scholar
  24. Insurance Ombudsman Bureau (1992).Annual report for 1992. London: Insurance Ombudsman Bureau.Google Scholar
  25. James, R., & Seneviratne, M. (1991). The Building Societies Ombudsman scheme.Civil Justice Quarterly, 10, 157–174.Google Scholar
  26. Law Commission (1980).Insurance law: Non-disclosure and breach of warranty. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Report 104, command 8064.Google Scholar
  27. Law Reform Committee (1957).Fifth report: Conditions and exceptions in insurance policies. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office. Command paper 62.Google Scholar
  28. Lewis, R. (1985). Insurers agreements not to enforce strict legal rights: Bargaining with government in the shadow of the law.Modem Law Review, 48, 275–292.Google Scholar
  29. Llewellyn, D., & Wrigglesworth, J. (1990). Labouring under the law.Mortgage Finance Gazette, November, pp. 218–236.Google Scholar
  30. Matthews, P. (1987). Uberrimae fides in modern insurance law. In: F. D. Rose (Ed.),New foundations for insurance law, pp. 39–59. London: Stevens.Google Scholar
  31. McGee, A. (1992).The Financial Services Ombudsman. London: Format.Google Scholar
  32. Melville-Ross, T. (1991). New legislation: A view from the top 10.Mortgage Finance Gazette, January, pp. 26–27.Google Scholar
  33. Merkin, R. M., & McGee, A. (1989).Insurance contract law. London: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  34. Morris, P. E. (1987). The Banking Ombudsman.Journal of Business Law, 1987, 131–136, 199–210.Google Scholar
  35. National Consumer Council (1983).Banking services and the consumer. London: National Consumer Council.Google Scholar
  36. National Consumer Council (1993).Ombudsman services: Consumers' views of the Office of the Building Societies Ombudsmen and the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau. London: National Consumer Council.Google Scholar
  37. Office of the Banking Ombudsman (1992).Annual report for 1991–92. London: Office of the Banking Ombudsman.Google Scholar
  38. Penn, G., Shea, A., & Arora, A. (1987).The law relating to domestic banking. London: Butterworths.Google Scholar
  39. Review Committee (1989).Banking services: Law and practice. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  40. Thomas, R. (1988). Alternative dispute resolution — Consumer disputes.Civil Justice Quarterly, 7, 206–219.Google Scholar
  41. Willett, C. (1993). Unfair terms in consumer contracts.International Company and Commercial Law Review, 12, 454.Google Scholar
  42. Willett, C., & O'Donnell, A. (1991).Scottish business law: Text, cases and materials. London: Blackstone Press.Google Scholar
  43. Williams, R. (1987). Should the State provide alternative dispute resolution services?Civil Justice Quarterly, 6, 142–152.Google Scholar
  44. Wilson, M. (1990). The Insurance Ombudsman Bureau.Solicitors Journal, 134, 996–998.Google Scholar
  45. Woodroffe, G., & Lowe, R. (1991).Consumer law and practice. Third ed. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Rawlings
    • 1
  • Chris Willett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of LawBrunel UniversityUxbridgeUK
  2. 2.School of LawWarwick UniversityCoventryUK

Personalised recommendations