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BBRS publishes further key learnings on journey to launch of new dispute resolution service this autumn

08 July 2020

Perspectives from the front-line of a new dispute resolution service currently being set up to help larger SMEs resolve banking complaints have been made public today by the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS).

The BBRS has today released a report, Live Pilot Perspectives. This captures a panel discussion among four of the key individuals working on the development of its service, currently in a ‘Live Pilot’ phase, during which the BBRS has been reviewing over 40 real cases and how they can be resolved.

The discussion took place between those most closely involved with the process: Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of the BBRS; Lyndy Geddes, Interim Director of Technical Operations, BBRS; Alexandra Marks, Chief Adjudicator, BBRS; and James South, Managing Director of the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which is delivering dispute resolution services as part of the new arrangements. Speaking from their varied perspectives, in a dialogue captured for the report, the group discussed the insights and lessons learned from the process so far.

Lewis Shand Smith, Chair of the BBRS, commented:

“Talking to those involved, it is clear that the BBRS is already discovering a lot from the Live Pilot, even before cases come to a conclusion. The learning objectives set for the Live Pilot, in terms of the evolution and inception of the service, are being met. And, importantly, the Live Pilot is giving the BBRS food for thought in terms of what it will need to have in place to support potential disputes between SMEs and their banks that might emerge in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic crisis.

“The Live Pilot has attracted strong interest with a good base of cases going through the process, and an additional 200-plus cases registered on our system, which will remain open through to launch this autumn. As well as cases leading to an adjudication, there is evidence of parties taking the opportunity to settle their disputes which we are delighted to see. We are also successfully stress-testing our policies, and identifying cases too complex for Live Pilot, which the BBRS will be turning to once it has launched its full service. In addition, during the Live Pilot period, we have introduced the technology to support our customer management system on time and on budget.”

He added:

“I think any ombudsman scheme has to be a learning organisation. If it is not, it cannot understand the changes and complexities of the context in which it is operating. I think that, with the changes that are taking place in the banking world and the small business world, because of the covid-19 crisis, it is particularly important that, as an organisation, the BBRS is always learning.”


The full report is available on the BBRS website here.

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 includes 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.



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