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How the BBRS assesses a case

We assess each case on a fair and reasonable basis. When we look at a case, the BBRS considers relevant laws and regulations; rules, guidance and standards published by regulators; codes of practice; and what we consider to be good industry practice at the relevant time.

The BBRS uses a variety of approaches to resolving disputes. For more information about this, please click here.

The BBRS will look at various alternative dispute resolution approaches for each case, including mediation and early settlement. In the right cases, these approaches can help to preserve the relationship between SME customers and banks by resolving problems in a more informal way.

Where a case needs to be resolved through the BBRS making a binding decision, one of our Case Assessors will investigate the case, consider all the relevant evidence and reach a decision. This is known as “investigative adjudication.” In these cases, our decisions are known as “Determinations”.

Potential sources of material to help assess a case

When making a decision, the BBRS will need to collect information from you and the bank. One of the key roles of the Case Assessor is to come to a view about what happened by weighing up the evidence obtained from a number of sources such as:

  • Contemporaneous evidence (i.e. evidence from the time of the issue you are complaining about) shared by the parties. For example, minutes of a meeting with an email response agreeing that the minutes were accurate.
  • Contemporaneous evidence not necessarily shared by both parties. For example, a copy of a letter sent but with no evidence it was received.
  • Contemporaneous evidence not shared with the other party. For example, notes made by the bank on its customer records.
  • Contemporaneous evidence that is not specific to your complaint. For example, template letters that the bank would always use at that time.
  • Other historical evidence. For example, a review with an accountant to assess the impact on your business soon after the issue you are complaining about took place.
  • New evidence or current statements.

In most cases, we do not expect to gather oral evidence or undertake interviews as the Case Assessor will instead weigh up the evidence based on available documents.

How we share information

We are committed to being open and transparent, and believe that sharing information helps resolve complaints more quickly.

As a matter of principle, we will aim to share all documents relating to your complaint with both you and the bank. The information shared will still be treated confidentially. This means that neither you nor the bank should share any documents with others.

We understand that sometimes the information or documents should not be shared even with the other party, for example if it relates to pricing strategy or other commercially sensitive information, or a third party not connected with your complaint.

If you or your bank ask us not to share certain documents, we will not do so if we agree that the document contains sensitive information. In that case, we will tell the other party what the document is, why it is not being shared and that it will still be part of our assessment.

If we do not agree that the document is sensitive, whoever supplied the document can decide to either allow us to share it and consider it for our assessment in the usual way, or withdraw it and it will not be shared nor taken into account when deciding the case.

How we resolve a case

The BBRS resolves cases in a number of ways, including through mediation and formal adjudication. You can find more information on this here.

In cases that go through our adjudication process, once a BBRS Case Assessor has considered all the relevant evidence in a case, they will issue a Provisional Determination to both the customer and the bank at the same time. The purpose of the Provisional Determination is to allow each party the chance to comment, provide any additional evidence or give reasons why the outcome should be different.

The BBRS will then take into account any further information that has been provided and issue a Determination.

The BBRS will always do what is fair and reasonable in each individual case. This might mean that the Case Assessor upholds all parts of your complaint; only some parts of your complaint; or that we do not uphold any of it.

Regardless of the outcome, the BBRS will provide you with a decision and the reasons for it.

If the Case Assessor finds that the bank has made a mistake or treated you unfairly and you have lost out as a result, the BBRS will instruct the bank to put things right. For more information on the steps we can take to do this, click here.

Either party is able to appeal the Determination but this is only possible for specific reasons. The BBRS customer champion can provide further guidance on this.

If no valid appeal is made by you or the bank, you will be asked to accept or decline the Determination. If you accept the Determination, it will become binding on the bank as well as you.

If you choose to decline to accept the Determination, it will not become binding on the bank. Should you decline to accept the Determination, you will be able to pursue other action against the bank if you wish to do so.