FAQs

On this page, you can find answers to our frequently asked questions and general background on the BBRS.

The BBRS is committed to transparency, if you cannot find the answer to your question on this page then please send us an email at hello@thebbrs.org or call us on 0345 646 8825.

For any press or media enquiries, please contact 020 7554 1776 or email BBRS@portland-communications.com.

Help topics

More about us

What is the BBRS?

The BBRS is a new, independent organisation set up to resolve disputes between eligible small and medium sized businesses and their banks. Our service is free, independent and focused on achieving the right and fair outcome. We are dedicated to delivering an empathic and personal service through our Customer Champions, who will support you every step of the way. This includes helping you with the ‘paper work’ and other support to put your case together.

What has happened so far?

In January 2019, an Implementation Steering Group (ISG) was formed to drive the development of a new service to resolve disputes between small and medium businesses (SME) and their banks. The ISG, comprising the seven participating banks, SME representative bodies, and various observers from Government and regulatory bodies, have been working hard to establish the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) as a new independent entity.

The work has focused on setting up the processes, policies and systems required to run the new service. On 1 November 2019, the www.thebbrs.org website was launched, inviting potential customers to register their interest in using the BBRS. The leadership team was announced at the beginning of December 2019.

Much has been achieved in a short amount of time and we are working to set up the new organisation as quickly as possible in line with our principles – independent, fair, timely, transparent and accessible.

Whilst we have made considerable progress, we know that there is still much to do over the coming weeks and months. This includes finalising processes, technology and data management protocols required for the safe and effective day-to-day running of the BBRS and the protection of your information.

Your needs are our highest priority and we continue to be guided them. That is why, from the beginning we have worked with customer representative groups to determine the operational delivery and design of our service.

We are still relatively young and we therefore appreciate your patience while we work hard to make our service available to you.

Who is running the BBRS?

The BBRS is independent of both the banks and the businesses for which it will seek to resolve disputes.

Our new Chief Executive Officer, Samantha Barrass, responsible for day to day running of the BBRS is working closely with our Chief Adjudicator, Alexandra Marks.

Is my bank participating in the service?

There are currently seven participating banks for which we are able to accept complaints, including:

  • Barclays
  • Danske Bank
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Banking Group (including Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland)
  • NatWest Group (including Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank Northern Ireland)
  • Santander UK plc
  • Virgin Money (including Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank)

It is possible that additional banks might join as we develop our service. Any changes to the list of participating banks will be set out on this website.

What business representative groups have participated in the formation of the BBRS?

The key representative groups acting on behalf of small and medium sized businesses include:

  • APPG on Fair Business Banking
  • British Chambers of Commerce
  • The CBI SME Council
  • Federation of Small Businesses
  • The Independent SME Advisory Group of UK Finance
  • Institute of Directors
  • Small Business Commissioner
  • SME Alliance
How is the BBRS funded?

Whilst the BBRS is funded by the participating banks, it will be independently operated, managed and governed.

How we are getting started - Live Pilot

What is the purpose of the Live Pilot?

The Live Pilot is a really important mechanism for ensuring we create an approach that works for the businesses who use our service. Therefore, confirming our processes and ways of working are effective is a priority during this period. This is to ensure that what we have developed achieves our objective: to consistently deliver fair and reasonable outcomes of the highest quality. We are planning to conclude the Live Pilot in the summer of 2020, but due to COVID-19 disruption this might be delayed until later this year.

We want to emphasise that the Live Pilot is not intended to fast-track any complaints. If your case is not selected for the Live Pilot, it is no reflection on your complaint’s eligibility for BBRS nor its importance, urgency, or merits. Once we have launched our full service following the conclusion of the Live Pilot, we will then look at complaints that have not been selected for Live Pilot.

We are very grateful to those who have indicated their willingness to participate in the Live Pilot and value their contribution in shaping our service.

We acknowledge that some customers have been waiting a long time for an alternative dispute resolution service to be developed, and we very much appreciate your ongoing patience whilst we get started.

What can customers expect during the Live Pilot?

If you are one of the customers selected for the Live Pilot: You can expect a Customer Champion to contact you to discuss your complaint. They will listen to you, and work with you to help you set out your complaint and identify the key supporting evidence. Your Customer Champion’s priority is to guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible for you.

We have purposefully selected a manageable number of cases to help us fulfil our objectives for the Live Pilot in a reasonable timeline and ensure we can launch the service as soon as possible. We have started contacting customers, and this will continue on a rolling basis over a period of weeks. In the meantime, we are working hard to make sure we can speak to more customers, more frequently.

If at any stage we decide to pause your complaint progressing through the Live Pilot, we will contact you to let you know that we have paused it for now and explain our reasons.

We will contact all other customers who have registered their interest on a rolling basis when we have launched our full service following the conclusion of the Live Pilot.

What selection criteria are being used for the Live Pilot cases?

Our intention is to select a manageable number of cases representing a variety of complaint types to allow us to get started. To decide if a registered complaint is suitable for the Live Pilot, we may contact you to seek further clarification about the nature of your complaint.

Who is deciding which cases will be selected for the Live Pilot?

Alexandra Marks, the Chief Adjudicator, is selecting the cases for the Live Pilot.

What cases are the BBRS not including in Live Pilot?

All disputes handled by us will receive the right care and attention. Some complaints are more complex than others and will require more time to review properly. We will review these after the Live Pilot which we are planning to conclude during this summer, but due to COVID-19 disruption might be delayed until later this year.

Insolvency-related cases: We are still finalising the BBRS approach to dealing with disputes relating to companies which are insolvent. These cases are not included in our Live Pilot exercise and we will provide further updates as soon as we have decided the approach we will take.

Just because a case is not selected for the Live Pilot (whether due to insolvency or complexity), this is no reflection on its eligibility or ineligibility for consideration by the BBRS once its full service is launched.

Will I be contacted to be told if I am not in the Live Pilot?

Yes. This process has not yet started but please bear with us whilst we finalise the selection of Live Pilot cases.

What does it mean for my case if it is not selected for the Live Pilot? Is it any reflection on my eligibility for the BBRS?

If your case is not selected for the Live Pilot, this does not mean it is not eligible for our service. All complaints registered with the BBRS which have not been selected for the Live Pilot will be considered after the conclusion of the Live Pilot. This consideration will include eligibility for our scheme.

What does it mean to participate in the Live Pilot?

We are grateful to those who agree to take part in the Live Pilot. Customers participating in the Live Pilot will have their complaint reviewed by the BBRS complaints handling team in line with our current processes and ways of working.

The Live Pilot focuses on the complaint review process only. What that means is customers taking part in the Live Pilot will receive the first formal determinations from our service once it has fully launched.

It may take longer to review cases during the Live Pilot. This is because we may need to repeat some steps as we test our processes and procedures to ensure we have them and your complaint correct.

Whether or not selected for the Live Pilot, customers and their bank are always able to negotiate a resolution of their dispute at any stage during or after the Live Pilot. The BBRS will be available to assist in this process, if that is the customer’s preference.

You can withdraw your complaint from the BBRS at any time.

When will the Live Pilot finish?

The Live Pilot is planned to conclude during the summer of 2020, but due to COVID-19 disruption this might be delayed until later this year. At this stage we cannot provide a specific date until the handling timescales of the complaint cases in the Live Pilot are fully understood.

Will the Live Pilot be affected by COVID-19?

We are putting measures in place to ensure the Live Pilot can continue as planned and will keep you updated should anything change.

More about eligibility

What businesses are eligible to use the BBRS?

You must first have complained to your bank within required timescales and given them the opportunity to resolve your dispute. The BBRS is only available for eligible complaints that remain unresolved with your bank.

We can only accept complaints for businesses registered in the following UK jurisdictions:

  • England
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

If you are unsure about your eligibility for inclusion, please do register your interest and we will discuss your eligibility when we contact you as part of our full service delivery.

How is the eligibility for the BBRS different from the Financial Ombudsman Service?

According to the Financial Ombudsman Service rules:

  • A micro-enterprise is a business which:
    • has a turnover or annual balance sheet that does not exceed €2 million; and
    • employs fewer than 10 employees
  • A small business is an enterprise which:
    • is not a micro-enterprise;
    • has an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million; and
    • has a balance sheet total of less than £5 million, or employs fewer than 50 employees

The BBRS has different eligibility considerations to the Financial Ombudsman Service based on turnover and assets as follows:

  • For the period from 1 April 2019 onwards:
    • Turnover up to £10m per annum; and
    • Total assets up to £7.5m; and
    • Your complaint is not eligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service
  • For the period from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019:
    • Maximum turnover up to £6.5m per annum; and
    • Total assets up to £5m

For more information about which service might be appropriate for you, please refer to the Financial Ombudsman Service eligibility criteria and BBRS eligibility criteria.

Please note that the Financial Ombudsman Service eligibility criteria was increased for unresolved complaints relating to acts or omissions from 1 April 2019.

Who makes decisions about eligibility?

We recognise that each case has its own features and complexity, and decisions about eligibility will need to be carefully considered.

Once detailed eligibility criteria have been finalised at the end of the Live Pilot stage, decisions on individual cases will be made exclusively by the BBRS, with ultimate responsibility falling on the BBRS Chief Adjudicator, Alexandra Marks.

If your bank indicates that it believes your complaint is ineligible for the BBRS service, it will need to provide evidence of this to the BBRS. In this event, the bank’s statements and evidence regarding your complaint’s ‘eligibility’ will be passed to you for your consideration and you will be given the opportunity to respond, either agreeing with the bank or by providing your own statement and any evidence which supports your belief that your complaint is eligible for the BBRS.

Have the eligibility criteria been finalised?

No. The details of our eligibility criteria are still being finalised and further information will be made available at the end of the Live Pilot. The eligibility considerations as they stand at the moment can be found on our website, here: https://thebbrs.org/eligibility/.

Are sole traders and partnerships eligible to use the BBRS?

Yes. We welcome registrations of interest from sole traders and partnerships as well as other types of SME. Neither sole traders nor partnerships are excluded from the Live Pilot, though we would like to stress that only a manageable number of cases will be selected for the Live Pilot. All other eligible cases will be considered once the Live Pilot has concluded and we launch our full service.

What if my case involves insolvency?

Complaints that involve insolvency or other forms of high complexity will be reviewed by the BBRS once its full service is launched. This is because we are still working through our approach to cases involving insolvency. We will provide further detail as soon as it is finalised.

We will be looking at all cases which have been registered as soon as we can.

My complaint

I have my case file ready for review. How should I submit it?

When we are ready to start reviewing your complaint, in Live Pilot or full service, you will be assigned a Customer Champion. Your Customer Champion will guide you through the process of providing your written complaint to the BBRS and gain your consent to hold any evidence you may have assembled.

Please assist us by not sending any files or correspondence in relation to your case (or any cases you are authorised to represent), either directly or via any SME representative groups, until your Customer Champion has specifically asked for your consent. The reason for this is that the BBRS is not legally able to hold any data until we have your explicit consent to do so.

Any files or other materials provided to the BBRS which have not been specifically requested by your Customer Champion will be returned to you, or if emailed to us will be deleted.

Will I lose any of my rights if I take my complaint to the BBRS?

No. By taking a complaint to the BBRS, you will not give up your right to bring legal proceedings against your bank. However, the BBRS may consider complaints ineligible if a customer has previously taken or concluded legal proceedings against their bank which have already covered the complaint being made.

You can withdraw your complaint from the BBRS at any time.

If I am waiting to be contacted about the Live Pilot, should I still consider taking my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service?

If your bank has provided its ‘final response’ concerning your complaint within the last six months, this question and answer applies to you.

The BBRS is available to independently review eligible SME complaints not eligible for existing independent complaint review schemes such as the Financial Ombudsman Service (the FOS).

Provided your bank has furnished you with its final response to your complaint, and introductory FOS literature, you may be eligible for the FOS. Click here for the FOS’s eligibility criteria.

Importantly, however, the FOS applies a strict six-month time limit to consider complaints which begins when your bank provides you with its final response. Missing this deadline is likely to mean that your complaint is no longer eligible for the FOS. Click here for the FOS’s six-month time limit rules and exceptions.

It is important not to miss this deadline. If you miss the FOS deadline and your complaint was eligible for FOS then your complaint will not be separately eligible for review by the BBRS. Click here for additional details on BBRS eligibility.

If you are in any doubt about whether the FOS can deal with your complaint, you should contact them immediately.

If I am eligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), can I choose to take my complaint to the BBRS instead of the FOS?

No. If your business is of a size that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) can deal with your complaint, you must take it there. If you meet the criteria for the FOS, you will not be eligible for the BBRS.

You can find the link to the FOS’s eligibility criteria here: https://sme.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/complain/complaints-can-help

Does the BBRS have any influence on moratoriums on my complaint with my bank?

No. Moratoriums will be granted or refused solely at the discretion of banks. If you believe that a moratorium may be appropriate to your current circumstances, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that you contact your bank.

We understand that in some situations customers may seek a moratorium from legal proceedings direct from their bank as a result of bringing their complaints to the BBRS. Participating banks have agreed to consider requests for a moratorium on a case by case basis where complaints have been registered with the BBRS.

In these situations, it is entirely the bank’s decision whether or not to grant a moratorium and for the bank to consider the relevance (or not) of registration of a complaint with the BBRS. If the bank requires proof of registration, the automated confirmation email you received when registering an interest should be considered as sufficient proof to the bank, a court, or other party that there has indeed been a registration of interest with the BBRS.

Ultimately, it is for the court to decide whether or not to grant any adjournment of legal proceedings. As an impartial, independent banking complaints resolution service, the BBRS is not an advocate for complainants and therefore will not intervene in legal proceedings, requests for adjournments or any other matter on behalf of complainants.

In the unlikely event that the court requires further confirmation from the BBRS that a complaint has been registered with us, on request we would confirm this directly with the court.

Will I have to pay for the service?

No. For all customers the BBRS service is free of any charges.

Who will represent me?

We have designed our service in such a way that customers should not require the involvement of any representatives (legal or other). Within the BBRS you will have the support you need from our complaint handling team and you will be assigned a Customer Champion who will be your BBRS point of contact.

Your Customer Champion’s role is to guide you through the process and make it as simple as possible for you.  They will help you assemble and articulate your case, and engage with your bank to obtain responses and materials relevant to your complaint.

Our ambition is that your case is resolved between you and your bank during the complaint assembly stage. If we find this is not possible, it will be adjudicated by a BBRS case assessor, or a mediated resolution may be offered to you.

What is a claims management company and do I need to use one to submit my complaint to the BBRS?

Claims management companies are commercial businesses or individuals that handle certain types of claim, including financial services and products.

All claims management companies in England, Scotland and Wales must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to operate legally – find out more here.

Before you consider using a claims management company, or any other professional third party, please bear in mind that the BBRS will, for free, support all businesses personally in submitting a complaint application.

Every case is assigned a Customer Champion who will listen to your understanding of what happened, help you set out your complaint and identify the key supporting evidence. Therefore, the services of a claims management company should not be necessary.

Will there be a hearing?

In appropriate cases, there may be an opportunity to give your account orally if you wish to, but we do not anticipate complaints will be resolved at a ‘hearing’ as such.

How long will the process take?

We will do our utmost to resolve cases as quickly as possible but the length of time the process will take will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The complexity of issues
  • The number of complaints within your case
  • The availability of evidence from you and the bank
  • The amount of evidence for further review when it is received by the other party
  • Whether or not the bank and you are able to resolve the issues during the complaints process
  • Whether complaints are adjudicated or mediated when early resolution cannot be achieved

Our ambition is that your case is resolved between you and your bank during the complaint assembly stage. If we find this is not possible, it will be adjudicated by a BBRS case assessor, or a mediated resolution may be offered to you.

We will keep you informed of progress with your case once it has been accepted for review.

Registering your interest in the BBRS

What if I am unsure about registering my interest?

We are inviting all businesses with an unresolved complaint with one of the participating banks that believes they are eligible for our service, to register their interest now.

If you are unsure about your eligibility for inclusion, please do register your interest and we will review your eligibility when we contact you.

If you do not think you are eligible to use the BBRS, there are a number of organisations which may be able to help you deal with your complaint, including the Financial Ombudsman Service.

How will the BBRS store and use the information I submit?

Your data will only be used in line with your preferences and our Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy.

How and when can I submit a detailed application about my complaint?

We expect our full service to be available in summer 2020, but due to COVID-19 disruption might be delayed until later this year. We will provide more details when they are known.

We will then be able to accept complaints electronically, in writing or over the telephone and further details will be provided in due course.

Keeping in touch with the BBRS

How can I keep up to date?
  1. Check our website. We are updating our website regularly with news and progress. We therefore encourage you to check from time to time to find out what’s new.
  1. Register your interest. You can register your interest in our service here. By doing this, you will also receive email updates on the progress of our service.
  2. Attend one of our upcoming webinars. Following Government advice, we have changed our planned roadshow events into a series of online webinars in May and June. Opportunities to meet with the team in-person will be planned for later in the year.

The events will introduce the BBRS and its leadership team and be an opportunity for you or anyone else who is interested in the service to hear about the aims of the organisation, progress to date, and the BBRS’ approach to resolving disputes. These events will also be an ideal opportunity to ask questions and discuss the service with the BBRS team. You can register for the events on our website and submit questions and topics you would like covered at the webinars.

You can sign up for a webinar on our website and submit a question ahead of the event.

We look forward to as many people as possible joining us.

How can I find out more about the BBRS’s upcoming webinar events?

Please see above: “How can I keep up to date?”

You will need to sign up in advance to attend one of our webinars. We have recently updated our website with more information, including dates, times and how to sign up.

Can I keep in touch through a nominated contact point?

If you have registered your interest you will be contacted via your registered, preferred contact details. Updates and other communications will be sent via the preferred email address you have registered with the BBRS.

A Customer Champion will be assigned to each customer once their complaint is in the process for being considered by the BBRS. The Customer Champion will be your nominated point of contact, guiding you through the process and answering any questions.

How can I change my preferred contact point or method?

Please email dpl@thebbrs.org if you wish your contact preferences to be changed, or please call 0345 646 8825 and one of our team will be able to help you (Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm).

What if I have further questions?

If you have any general enquiries, we encourage you to visit our website or call our customer helpline on 0345 646 8825.

Once your complaints are in the BBRS process, your point of contact will be your Customer Champion.

When will the service be fully launched?

We anticipate that the service will be fully launched after completion of the Live Pilot, which is planned for this summer, but due to COVID-19 disruption might be delayed until later this year.