BBRS comments on possible caseload in early years of operation

The Business Banking Resolution Service has commented on its potential caseload in its early years of operation, saying that it expects to play significant role in dealing with customer complaints.

The BBRS will operate two schemes:

  • one for historical cases raised by businesses that were previously ineligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service but would be eligible under its expanded scope from 1 April 2019
  • and one for contemporary cases operating above the expanded scope of the Financial Ombudsman Service, accommodating larger businesses for which access to court processes is not readily available.

The BBRS said that, while uncertain economic circumstances make it difficult to predict how many contemporary complaints it might receive, its current best estimate for the historical scheme is of an anticipated 5,000-6,000 cases over a three year period.

The independent and free dispute resolution service highlighted the, now wide, expectation among its stakeholders for higher levels of demand than previously anticipated for its contemporary scheme. This is due to the ongoing pandemic crisis, and the resulting pressures on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

The BBRS, which will launch this autumn, is ideally placed to play a key role in assisting with unresolved banking complaints from larger SME customers with disputes that have not previously had the opportunity to be addressed by an independent review process. It has been trialling its services by looking at complaints through a ‘Live Pilot’, It has received positive customer feedback in this test phase.

Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of the BBRS, said:

“The Live Pilot has been successful in confirming the policies and procedures we will follow when we go live this autumn. Of the 48 cases we took into our Live Pilot, about a fifth have either settled or are now with case assessors for draft determination. The draft decisions will be provided after we launch.

“We commissioned independent research into the experience of customers participating in the Live Pilot, and the feedback has been strong and positive. Overall, this has confirmed the need for the service and given us useful insights into our ways of working.

“Our service is for those larger SMEs that are not eligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service and for whom taking their bank to court was previously the only option. The service is entirely free for SMEs.

“Based on figures provided by the banks we estimate that over a three year period we will deal with between five and six thousand historical disputes.

“We are also anticipating a higher level of demand than we had originally expected for our contemporary scheme. The banks have done a remarkable job in getting much needed loans to the SME community under challenging circumstances. But with the best will in the world there are likely to be complaints that arise in the future resulting from the economic after-effects of the covid-19 pandemic.”


Notes to Editors

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About the BBRS

The BBRS is a dispute resolution service set up to resolve disputes between eligible small and medium sized businesses and participating banks. The BBRS is being established in accordance with a voluntary commitment made by the banking and finance industry in response to the Simon Walker Review on the small business complaints landscape.

An Implementation Steering Group was established in January 2019, which is driving and overseeing the development of the service in line with the banking and finance industry’s commitment and agreed terms of reference. The seven participating banks are: Barclays, Danske Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group (including Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland), RBS Group (including Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank Northern Ireland), Santander UK plc, Virgin Money (including Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank). Alongside the participating banks, the Implementation Steering Group comprises of many representative groups acting on behalf of small and medium sized businesses.

The so-called ‘Live Pilot’, set up at the end of last year, is looking at over 40 cases. Some date back as far as 2001, others arose in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, some are more recent. The pilot is testing some of the policies and procedures on which this new approach to handling business customers’ complaints is based. The independent BBRS, will go live this autumn.