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Starting a complaint

Before a Complaint can be considered by the Chief Adjudicator

SC 1
SC 1 :

Subject to SC 21, the Chief Adjudicator can consider a Complaint only when:

    1. that Complaint has previously been made to the relevant Respondent; and
    2. either:
      1. the Complainant has received a final response from the Respondent in relation to it; or
      2. the Respondent has not provided a final response in relation to it within what is, in the Chief Adjudicator’s view, a reasonable time period.

Procedures and Time Limits

SC 2
SC 2 :

Unless these Scheme Rules specify otherwise, the following provisions apply to any aspect of the Chief Adjudicator’s consideration of a Complaint under these Scheme Rules:

  1. The Chief Adjudicator may fix, and extend, reasonable time limits for any aspect of the consideration of a Complaint.
  2. If a Respondent fails to comply with a time limit, the Chief Adjudicator may:
    1. proceed with consideration of the Complaint; or
    2. include provision for any material distress or material inconvenience caused by that failure in any Award or Recommended Amount the Chief Adjudicator decides to make.
  3. If a Complainant fails to comply with a time limit, the Chief Adjudicator may:
    1. proceed with consideration of the Complaint; or
    2. treat the Complaint as withdrawn and cease to consider it.

Registering a Complaint with BBRS

SC 3
SC 3 :

A Complainant must register a Complaint with BBRS in accordance with SC 4 and SC 5.

SC 4
SC 4 :

A Complaint may be registered using any of the methods published on the BBRS website for that purpose, in particular:

  1. online as directed on the website;
  2. by telephone;
  3. by email; or
  4. by post.
SC 5
SC 5 :
  1. During the process of registering a Complaint, the Complainant should explain their Complaint in their own words to BBRS to enable BBRS to understand the nature of:
    1. the Complaint; and
    2. what the Complainant would like BBRS to do about it and why.
  2. The Complainant should explain to BBRS, where necessary with assistance from the Customer Champion, whether they have any of the following, and provide them to BBRS as directed during the process:
    1. any copies they have of relevant previous correspondence with the Respondent; and
    2. copies of any documents they consider are relevant to the Complaint.
  3. BBRS will, through the Customer Champion, assist the Complainant to agree the substance of the Complaint and to reduce the Complaint into an agreed form of wording which will form part of the registration alongside the Customer Agreement.
  4. A Complaint should not take the form of a traditional legal pleading or statement of case of a kind used in Court, however a Complainant may ask the Customer Champion assisting them to adapt any existing legal documents for use in the registration of a Complaint in accordance with (1).
SC 6
SC 6 :

As part of registration of a Complaint, the Complainant must enter into a Customer Agreement. Subject to SC 7, the Chief Adjudicator will not consider (or further consider) any Complaint, or issue any Provisional Determination, Determination or Final Determination in respect of a Complaint, in relation to which the Complainant has not entered into a Customer Agreement, or has done so but in the opinion of the Chief Adjudicator has not complied, or is not complying, with it.

SC 7
SC 7 :

Before acting on the basis of SC 6, the Chief Adjudicator must:

  1. notify the Complainant of the circumstances;
  2. explain to the Complainant what the effect will be if the Complainant does not enter into a Customer Agreement or does not rectify non-compliance; and
  3. having regard to the nature of the circumstances, either:
    1. allow the Complainant a reasonable period of time to take remedial steps to enter into the Customer Agreement and/ or rectify the non-compliance; or
    2. if BBRS is satisfied that the non-compliance cannot be rectified, for example because a breach of confidentiality has taken place, the Chief Adjudicator will:
      1. inform the Complainant of this;
      2. allow the Complainant an opportunity to make any representations;
      3. unless any representations change the Chief Adjudicator’s assessment that the non-compliance cannot be rectified, cease to consider the Complaint.

Group Complaints

SC 8
SC 8 :
  1. Subject to (5) and (6), where BBRS has received two or more Complaints, the Chief Adjudicator will aggregate them and treat them as a single Complaint (a Group Complaint) where:
    1. (a) the Complaints relate to materially the same acts or omissions of the same Respondent;
    2. (b) the Respondent is the same in each Complaint; and
    3. (c) the Complainants are each members of the same Group.
  2. The Chief Adjudicator will treat a Group Complaint in the same way as any other Complaint for the purpose of these Scheme Rules, save that:
    1. the relevant Award Limit in AW 3 will apply to the Group Complaint (and not to each Complaint or Complainant making up the Group Complaint);
    2. the Chief Adjudicator will send any Provisional Determination, Determination or Final Determination issued under these Scheme Rules to each Complainant in the same terms;
    3. each Complainant making the Group Complaint will, separately, be able to provide comments on any Provisional Determination in accordance with DT 8;
    4. all Complainants making the Group Complaint must accept the Determination of it in accordance with DT 15 before it will become binding on any of them in accordance with DT 16;
    5. any Complainant to a Group Complaint may appeal a Determination in accordance with the chapter of these Scheme Rules entitled ‘Appeals’, in which case that Determination will not be binding on any of them; and
    6. all Complainants making a Group Complaint must accept any Final Determination, to the extent there is one, in accordance with AP 10 before it becomes binding on any of them in accordance with AP 11.
  3. Where BBRS is dealing with a Group Complaint and receives, at any point prior to issuing a Determination (or, as the case may be, a Final Determination), a further Complaint from a different Complainant in the same Group that otherwise meets the criteria in SC 8(1), the Chief Adjudicator will aggregate that further Complaint with the existing Group Complaint and deal with it in accordance with the above.
  4. Where BBRS:
    1. has resolved a past Complaint by issuing a Determination (or, as the case may be, a Final Determination) which has been accepted and become binding in accordance with these Scheme Rules (a Resolved Complaint); and
    2. subsequently receives a further Complaint from a different Complainant in the same Group as the Complainant(s) as the Resolved Complaint that, had it been made earlier, BBRS would have dealt with as a Group Complaint in accordance with SC 8(1),

    the Chief Adjudicator will deal with that further Complaint in the same way as any other Complaint in accordance with these Scheme Rules, save that the Chief Adjudicator will reduce the relevant Award Limit that applies to that further Complaint pursuant to AW 3 by a sum equal to the amount of all Awards already made in the Resolved Complaint. This means in practice that where one or more Awards already made in the Resolved Complaint have in aggregate already reached the Award Limit, BBRS will not be able to make any further Award in the further Complaint, but it may still recommend that the Respondent pays a Recommended Amount or takes a Recommended Action. (These are explained in more detail in AW 2 and AW 5).

  5. Where, other than as a result of the application of the relevant Award Limit under SC 8(2)(a), the Chief Adjudicator considers there would be a real risk of material prejudice or unfairness to a Complainant as a result of aggregating its Complaint under this rule SC 8, the Chief Adjudicator will:
    1. give reasons to the Respondent for considering that there is such a risk; and
    2. request that the Respondent give its written consent to BBRS dealing with that Complaint individually and not as part of a Group Complaint;
    3. if the Respondent gives its written consent, the Chief Adjudicator will deal with the Complaint from that Complainant in the same way as any other Complaint for the purpose of these Scheme Rules, without aggregating it, and none of rules SC 8(1) to (4) will apply to it;
    4. if the Respondent does not give its written consent, the Respondent will explain, in writing, to the Chief Adjudicator why, the Chief Adjudicator will proceed to aggregate the Complaint in accordance with SC 8(1), and this rule SC 8 will otherwise apply to it.
  6. This provision, SC 8, does not apply to Complainants who are Guarantors. However, under DT 1(3) the Chief Adjudicator must always assess the loss and damage suffered by a particular Complainant with whose Complaint they are dealing. Accordingly a Guarantor should not expect, if their Complaint is upheld, an assessment of fair compensation for their loss to include compensation for losses suffered by other Complainants, or corporate loss that was not their personal loss, or compensation that would amount to recovery by more than one person of the same loss.

Other Connected Complaints

SC 9
SC 9 :
  1. Where BBRS has received two or more Complaints, the Chief Adjudicator will treat them as Connected Complaints for the purposes of these Scheme Rules if:
    1. the Complaints relate to materially the same acts or omissions of the same Respondent; and
    2. the Respondent is the same in each Complaint; and
    3. the Complainants are not in the same Group; but
    4. there is some other substantial connection between the Complaints such that the Chief Adjudicator considers it fair, reasonable and administratively more efficient for the Complaints to be managed together.
  2. The Chief Adjudicator will not treat a Complaint as a Connected Complaint if they are satisfied that there would be material prejudice to any Complainant in doing so.
SC 10
SC 10 :

Each Connected Complaint will be dealt with as a Complaint under these Scheme Rules, save that the Chief Adjudicator will manage its investigation and determination of Connected Complaints together.  For the avoidance of doubt, the Chief Adjudicator will apply the relevant Award Limit in AW 3 separately to each Connected Complaint (and not to all Connected Complaints in aggregate).

SC 11
SC 11 :

The Chief Adjudicator will give directions to the parties as to how Connected Complaints will be managed together so that all matters can be addressed at the same time.

After the Chief Adjudicator has received a Complaint

SC 12
SC 12 :

After the Chief Adjudicator has received a Complaint, they will assess, and continue to assess at all stages up to the issuing of a Determination or Final Determination:

  1. whether the Complaint may need to be dismissed without consideration of the merits;
  2. whether the Complaint may be eligible for, and would in the Chief Adjudicator’s view be better dealt with by, another dispute resolution scheme or a Court; and
  3. whether the Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions in these Scheme Rules.
SC 13
SC 13 :

In order to carry out the assessments in SC 12, the Chief Adjudicator will, in addition to the specific matters in SC 12, generally consider the following matters:

  1. the subject matter of the Complaint(s);
  2. who the Complainant is (or who the Complainants are) and in respect of which events and loss(es) or damage the Complaint is made;
  3. where a Complainant is a Business Organisation, the identity of the person(s) seeking to bring the Complaint on its behalf and whether or not they are Duly Authorised;
  4. whether a Complaint is part of a Group Complaint or is a Connected Complaint.
SC 14
SC 14 :

For the purpose of considering the matters set out in SC 12 and SC 13, and in accordance with SC 2:

  1. the Chief Adjudicator may request from any person any evidence that the Chief Adjudicator reasonably considers necessary, including evidence of whether or not the Complainant is a Business Organisation, or evidence that the person bringing the Complaint on its behalf is Duly Authorised;
  2. the person to whom a request under (1) is made must provide the evidence requested to the Chief Adjudicator within any reasonable time frame set by the Chief Adjudicator in accordance with SC 2;
  3. the Chief Adjudicator will take into account all evidence received.

Dismissal without consideration of the merits

SC 15
SC 15 :
  1. Subject to (2), the Chief Adjudicator may dismiss a Complaint when, at any time, the Chief Adjudicator considers that one or more of the following circumstances exist:
    1. BBRS has already dealt with the Complaint or a materially similar Complaint from the same Complainant, (whether or not that resulted in a Determination); or
    2. the Complaint has not previously been made to the relevant Respondent, or it has but in the Chief Adjudicator’s view, the Respondent has not had a reasonable time period to respond to it; or
    3. the Complaint is not about a Banking Service; or
    4. the Complaint relates solely to the conduct of a person that is not a Respondent (including but not limited to the conduct of a transferee firm following an Out of Scheme Transfer); or
    5. the Complaint is frivolous or vexatious; or
    6. the Complaint clearly does not have any reasonable prospect of success;
    7. the Complainant has not suffered (or is unlikely to suffer) financial loss, material distress or material inconvenience; or
    8. the Respondent or another member of its group has already made an offer of compensation (or a goodwill payment) which is:
      1. in the Chief Adjudicator’s opinion, fair and reasonable in relation to the circumstances alleged by the Complainant; and
      2. still open for acceptance or has already been accepted by the Complainant; or
    9. the subject matter of the Complaint has been dealt with, or is being dealt with, by a comparable independent complaints scheme or dispute-resolution process; or
    10. the Chief Adjudicator considers the Complaint would more suitably be dealt with by a Court, taking into account factors such as: whether the Complaint raises an important or novel a point of law which is central to the outcome of the dispute (and if so, the importance of any point of law in the context of the dispute); the consequences of the outcome of the Complaint for the Complainant or Respondent, or for its (or their) customers; the amount at stake in the Complaint; the remedies that a Court could impose; the stage already reached in consideration of the dispute; and whether the Complainant would or may be barred from bringing the complaint because of Court time limitation rules;
    11. the Complaint is about employment matters from an employee or employees of a Respondent; or
    12. it is a Complaint about investment performance; or
    13. it is a Complaint about a purely landlord and tenant issue arising out of a regulated sale and rent back agreement; or
    14. the Complaint is brought by an assignee who is not a Recognised Assignee; or
    15. the Complaint is about the legitimate exercise of a Respondent’s commercial judgement; or
    16. there are other compelling reasons why it is inappropriate for the Complaint to be dealt with by the Chief Adjudicator, for example because the Complainant has acted in an aggressive or threatening manner towards BBRS staff.
  2. Before acting in accordance with (1), the Chief Adjudicator will:
    1. advise the Complainant of its initial assessment;
    2. give the Complainant an opportunity to make representations;
    3. take any representations made into account; and
    4. if the initial assessment has not changed, notify the Complainant accordingly and decline to consider that Complaint further.

Other dispute resolution schemes

SC 16
SC 16 :

Where it appears to the Chief Adjudicator that the conditions in (1) are met, the Chief Adjudicator may proceed in accordance with (2):

  1. The conditions are that:
    1. the Complaint may be eligible for another independent complaints scheme (whether or not it meets the Eligibility Conditions in these Scheme Rules); and
    2. the Complaint would in the Chief Adjudicator’s view be better dealt with by that other scheme.
  2. The Chief Adjudicator will:
    1. use reasonable endeavours to refer the matter to the other scheme, including providing reasonable assistance to the Complainant; and
    2. cease to consider the Complaint any further once referred.
SC 17
SC 17 :
  1. Where the Complaint is from a Dissolved Complainant, before taking any decision as to eligibility under SC 18, the Chief Adjudicator will:
    1. using all reasonably available information, prepare a list of all individuals (excluding the Duly Authorised Person for that Dissolved Complainant) who were directors and shareholders of the Dissolved Complainant (or, where the Dissolved Complainant was not a Company, a list of all individuals who were its partners, members, trustees or members of management relevant for that type of Business Organisation):
      1. at the time of the act or omission complained of;
      2. in the event that the Dissolved Complainant was insolvent prior to dissolution, at the point immediately prior to the appointment of the relevant Insolvency Practitioner; and
      3. at the point of the Dissolved Complainant’s dissolution (including but not limited to any relevant Insolvency Practitioner in office at the time); and
    2. make a reasonable attempt to trace those individuals and obtain a signed Dissolved Complainant Waiver from each of them.
      To support this activity, the Duly Authorised person for that Complainant must provide to the Chief Adjudicator any document or information in their possession, or other assistance, that the Chief Adjudicator reasonably requests.
  2. In the event that the Chief Adjudicator is able to obtain a signed Dissolved Complainant Waiver from every individual in the list prepared pursuant to (1)(a), they will proceed to make a decision as to eligibility under SC 18.
  3. In the event that the Chief Adjudicator is not, for any reason, able to obtain a signed Dissolved Complainant Waiver from every individual in the list prepared pursuant to (1)(a), or is not able to do so within a reasonable time, they will seek the written consent of the Respondent for BBRS to consider that matter before making a decision as to eligibility under SC 18.
  4. Where:
    1. the Respondent provides its written consent, the Chief Adjudicator will proceed to making a decision as to eligibility under SC 18;
    2. the Respondent does not provide its written consent, it will give the reasons for this, and the Chief Adjudicator will notify the Duly Authorised person for that Complainant accordingly.
  5. If the Respondent does not provide its written consent, the Chief Adjudicator will opt either to:
    1. correspond with the Duly Authorised person and/or other individuals to obtain the additional Dissolved Complainant Waivers required; or
    2. cease to consider that Complaint further, if in the Chief Adjudicator’s opinion there is limited likelihood of obtaining the additional Dissolved Complainant Waivers required.

Assessment of Eligibility Conditions

SC 18
SC 18 :

In order to assess, in accordance with SC 12(3), whether a Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions, the Chief Adjudicator will:

  1. notify the Complainant that the Chief Adjudicator is assessing whether the Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions;
  2. provide the following, at the same time, to the Respondent against whom the Complaint has been made:
    1. notification that the Chief Adjudicator has received the Complaint and is assessing whether the Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions;
    2. the names of the Complainant(s) and any persons acting on their behalf;
    3. a copy of the Complainant’s Customer Agreement;
    4. the Complaint in the form agreed between the Complainant and BBRS in relation to which the Complainant has signed the Customer Agreement; and
    5. any evidence the Chief Adjudicator has already obtained relating to: (i) the Due Authorisation of a person to act on behalf of a Complainant; and (ii) whether the Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions;
  3. set timeframes in accordance with SC 2 in order to:
    1. seek from the Complainant and Respondent such evidence that the Chief Adjudicator reasonably considers necessary in order to make the assessment;
    2. allow both Complainant and Respondent the opportunity to:
      1. consider any evidence provided to the Chief Adjudicator; and
      2. make submissions to the Chief Adjudicator about that evidence;
  4. make a decision:
    1. taking into account:
      1. all available evidence, including consideration of the credibility of any explanations given for the absence of potentially relevant evidence; and
      2. any submissions made;
    2. as to whether the Eligibility Conditions are more likely than not met; and
  5. if the decision in (4) is negative, not consider that Complaint further and notify the Complainant and the Respondent accordingly; or
  6. if the decision in (4) is positive, accept the Complaint for determination and proceed to deal with it in accordance with these Scheme Rules.
SC 19
SC 19 :
  1. A Complainant or a Respondent may appeal a decision concerning the Eligibility Conditions taken under SC 18(4).
  2. Any appeal must be made by sending an Appeal Notice to the Chief Adjudicator in accordance with AP 1 and AP 3, before the end of a period set by the Chief Adjudicator, and will be dealt with in accordance with the chapter of these Scheme Rules entitled ‘Appeals’.
  3. Where the decision of the Chief Adjudicator in SC 18(4) being appealed was a positive decision under SC 18(6), the Chief Adjudicator will not proceed to deal with the Complaint until the appeal has been determined.
  4. If following an appeal under this rule the Appeal Panel determines that the Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions, the Chief Adjudicator will accept the Complaint for determination and proceed to deal with it in accordance with these Scheme Rules. If the Appeal Panel determines that the Complaint does not meet the Eligibility Conditions, the Chief Adjudicator will not consider the Complaint further and will notify the Complainant and Respondent accordingly.

Acceptance of Complaints for determination by the Chief Adjudicator

SC 20
SC 20 :

Where the Chief Adjudicator decides to proceed with considering the Complaint under SC 18(6) or SC 19(4), they will:

  1. notify the Complainant and the Respondent of this; and
  2. inform the Complainant:
    1. about the existence of statutory time limits in relation to legal claims, and that consideration of a Complaint by BBRS will not prevent those limits from applying and may affect their ability to bring a legal claim in the future;
    2. about the existence of the settlement provisions in these Scheme Rules and the effect that acceptance of any Determination would have, particularly in relation to the Complainant’s ability to bring further legal claims or Complaints in the future;
    3. that they should take independent legal advice if they have any concerns in relation to the matters in (a) and (b); and
    4. about the provisions of these Scheme Rules concerning Costs Awards, with an explanation that in most cases Complainants should not need to have legal or other professional advisers to bring Complaints to BBRS, so Costs Awards are unlikely to be common;
  3. require the Complainant to enter into any further Customer Agreement necessary to enable the BBRS to proceed with its consideration of the Complaint (in relation to which rules SC 6 and SC 7 will continue to apply).

Cases BBRS may consider by exception

SC 21
SC 21 :

The Chief Adjudicator may consider any Complaint where the Complainant, Respondent and the Chief Adjudicator all agree in writing that BBRS may consider it under these Scheme Rules, regardless of whether:

  1. The Respondent has provided a final response to the Complainant in relation to that Complaint; or
  2. The Complaint meets the Eligibility Conditions.

Withdrawal or disengagement by Complainants

SC 22
SC 22 :

The Chief Adjudicator will cease to consider a Complaint further and will not issue any Provisional Determination, Determination, Final Determination or Award under these Scheme Rules, if a Complainant:

  1. notifies the Chief Adjudicator that they wish to withdraw a Complaint; or
  2. ceases to engage with BBRS regarding the Complaint, such that the Chief Adjudicator is satisfied that it would no longer be reasonable to continue considering the Complaint.
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