The Scheme Rules set out how the BBRS reviews complaints. Our Scheme Rules are included in full below.
The following overview aims to provide a summary of the parts of the Scheme Rules that are directly relevant to SME customers. However, this is not intended to replace the full version of the rules. You are able to review the full Scheme Rules at any time here.
The BBRS has been designed so that SME customers do not have to use any professional assistance (e.g. an accountant, lawyer, etc.) to bring a complaint (or complaints) to us. Each customer will be assigned a customer champion who – free of charge – will guide and support them throughout our process.
If you are an SME customer and are unsure about anything relating to the Scheme Rules, your customer champion will be able to help.
If you have not yet registered for the service, or have not yet been assigned a customer champion, please contact us with any questions.
- General provisions
The aim of the BBRS is to provide timely, effective and fair resolution to disputes. So that we can achieve this aim, all parties involved in a complaint need to act in good faith. This means that the BBRS, the bank and the SME customer will at all times act reasonably and deal with one another in an honest and open way, for example by providing the BBRS Case Assessor with all relevant evidence within a reasonable time.
So that we can resolve complaints effectively, both SME customers and participating banks will keep confidential all information, evidence or documents that they receive from the BBRS during the process of resolving a complaint.
So that we can resolve complaints effectively, both SME customers and participating banks agree to limit the BBRS’ liability to them. This means that the BBRS, any organisation working on our behalf, our Chief Adjudicator and all staff members of the BBRS will not be liable in damages for anything done in the course of reviewing a complaint, unless we have acted in bad faith.
- Starting a complaint
So that we can review your complaint:
- you must have already made that complaint to your bank, and either have received a response from them, or have waited a reasonable time but not received one;
- your complaint must not be eligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service;
- you must not be in, or have obtained any ruling from, any court proceedings with your bank about your complaint; and
- you have to meet our eligibility criteria
For more information on how to submit a complaint to the BBRS, please click here.
- What complaints can BBRS consider?
Our service will consider complaints which meet agreed eligibility criteria. A detailed explanation of these criteria is available here.
A complaint can be brought on behalf of the following organisations:
- A sole trader or business organisation* that is – or was at the time of the matters alleged in the complaint – a business customer of the participating bank being complained about; or
- A personal Guarantor of one of the above; or
- A Recognised Assignee of one of the above – including a partner or director
*Business organisations include companies; partnerships; trusts; charities; friendly societies or other co-operative societies in each case formed or incorporated, and (where registration is required) registered, under the law of any part of the UK.
Whether or not a complaint is eligible for the BBRS’ service will be kept under review throughout its consideration by the BBRS.
- Case determination and evidence
The BBRS uses different types of dispute resolution mechanisms.
Where the complaint undergoes adjudication (where a Case Assessor makes a decision on what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances), the BBRS will request evidence from both the SME customer and the bank to resolve a complaint. We will then investigate the complaint, including seeking further evidence if necessary.
Both parties will normally be expected to provide all evidence that is requested but there may be some exceptions (for example if a document cannot be fully disclosed because doing so would be against the law).
Both parties will also asked, but not obliged, to set out their positions and comment on the other’s position.
In the majority of cases, evidence will only need to be provided through documents. However, the BBRS may ask the SME customer or bank to provide oral evidence if we believe it is necessary to resolve a complaint.
In some cases, it may also be necessary to seek expert evidence during our investigation of a complaint. The BBRS will decide whether it is necessary to do so and instruct an expert. Neither the bank nor the SME customer need to instruct their own experts. If they choose to do so, the expert’s costs must be borne by the party instructing them.
We will consider all available evidence to investigate what happened and take all relevant evidence into account. This may include documents that would not be admissible in a court. We will then reach a decision that is fair and reasonable In all the circumstances whether to uphold a complaint and, if so, whether to make an award.
Each complaint will be decided on its individual facts and will not set any binding precedent for future complaints.
For more information on how decisions are made, please click here.
Where a complaint is upheld, we have powers to make financial and non-financial awards. Unless the decision is appealed, a customer can accept the award in full and final settlement of their complaint, or reject it and seek to pursue their complaint elsewhere.
Our process is designed to provide both SME customers and participating banks with opportunities to respond to Provisional Determinations so that any responses can be taken into account before issuing a Determination. For more information on how we operate, please click here.
There may still be some situations in which either a customer or a bank consider that there has been a clear error (of fact or law); there is new evidence; or the BBRS has broken the Scheme Rules and this has affected our decision. In any such case, but not for any other reason, a customer or a bank can appeal the decision (whether a Determination, or a decision about eligibility).
The BBRS Scheme Rules set out the criteria that must be met to raise an appeal. More information about this process is available here.