BBRS Quarterly Insight Report – April 2023
28 April 2023
Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) Quarterly Insight Report – April 2023
The BBRS was established to help Small and Medium sized business Enterprises (SMEs) who have not previously had access to other forms of dispute resolution.
The BBRS allows eligible businesses the opportunity to have their complaints heard and independently reviewed.
The organisation’s key goal remains to fairly resolve disputes between businesses and banks; and to promote trust in business banking relationships. The BBRS has been working towards this goal by adjudicating cases impartially, based on what is fair and reasonable, using alternative dispute resolutions (ADR) practices and also facilitating non-adjudicated outcomes (i.e., settlements, mediation, conciliation).
This is the eighth Quarterly Insights Report, providing information about the BBRS’ casework data between our launch on 15 February 2021 through to 31 March 2023.
Our Historical Scheme closed to new registrants on 14 February 2023. Any historical cases registered by this date will continue to be investigated, as will any new cases registered under our Contemporary Scheme. Customers continue to be at the heart of what we do, and the BBRS is focused on delivering an excellent customer experience.
As of 31 March 2023, the BBRS had a total of 946 registered cases. This is an increase of 41 cases from 30 September 2022.
Of the 946 cases registered with the BBRS, 56 per cent were historic cases (relating to complaints between 2001 and 2019), 23 per cent were contemporary cases (relating to complaints since 2019), 19 per cent had not been established as either historic or contemporary due to insufficient preliminary customer data and 2 per cent of cases had elements that related to both the historical and contemporary schemes.
Of the cases that could not be classed as either contemporary or historic, a portion will remain unestablished due to insufficient information being received before the case was withdrawn by the customer or was deregistered by the BBRS, due to prolonged customer inaction. For any open cases, the BBRS will continue to gather information so these cases can be categorised as either historic or contemporary.
When the BBRS launched in February 2021, the number of registered complaints was heavily weighted towards the historical scheme. This was due to the existing awareness of the BBRS among SME groups that were involved in the set-up of the BBRS. Since then, the number of historical case registrations has fallen slightly although historical cases still make up a high portion of all registered cases. With the closure of the historical scheme on 14 February 2023 it is expected that contemporary cases will make up a larger portion of all cases going forward.
|Unestablished date of complaint||183||19%|
|Total registered cases||946|
*cases that have components relating to both the Historical and Contemporary schemes
As of 31 March 2023, the BBRS had 73 open cases and 873 closed cases. In comparison, there were 85 open cases and 820 closed cases as of 31 December 2022.
Of the 946 cases that had come to the BBRS, 704 were closed for reasons not related to eligibility. This could have included, for example, the removal of duplicate cases, customers withdrawing their complaint from the process or the de-registration of cases by the BBRS due to prolonged customer inaction.
De-registered cases had not been the subject of a formal Eligibility Assessment, which means these customers could re-register their complaint in the future if they wish to do so (for cases under the Historical Scheme the deadline for registration was 14 February 2023, when this Scheme will closed). Cases were only de-registered following sustained and unsuccessful efforts to reach and communicate with customers.
As of 31 March 2023, 7 cases were waiting to be allocated to a Customer Champion. These cases had either just registered with the BBRS or were in the very early case assembly stages with customers being helped by a Case Officer.
The BBRS continues to actively work with customers on progressing cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The BBRS treats all cases as eligible until the facts of each case can be established. When a complaint is first assembled, relevant information is collected to check eligibility. Where there is a clear early challenge or lack of clarity about complaint eligibility, the customer is made aware as soon as possible.
Not all cases require or receive a formal Eligibility Assessment. All cases are continuously evaluated, during the case assembly stage, by the allocated Customer Champion and the Case Assessor, and only those cases where there is uncertainty regarding eligibility undergo a formal Eligibility Assessment by a Case Assessor.
If a case has received a formal Eligibility Assessment from a Case Assessor, the assessment may be subject to appeal by either party.
As of 31 March 2023, of the open cases, 68 were progressing as being eligible for the BBRS and 5 cases had been formally assessed as being ineligible, although this number could decrease, subject to appeal. Of the 873 closed cases, 149 had been formally found to be ineligible.
The eligibility of every case is kept under review throughout the complaint journey – as a result most cases fall into the ‘open cases progressing as eligible’ category until they require an Eligibility Assessment or receive a Provisional Determination.
Reasons for Ineligibility
The chart below shows the total number of reasons why cases were found ineligible for the BBRS following formal Eligibility Assessments.
The most common reason for ineligibility remains that a case is currently, or was previously, eligible for – or received an outcome from – the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The second most common reason was that at the time the case was referred to the bank, the business did not to meet the required BBRS financial criteria.
There can be one or more reasons affecting eligibility per case. As of 31 March 2023, 46 per cent of the 149 ineligible cases had more than one reason making which found them ineligible for consideration under the Scheme Rules.
*Percentage figures may not add up to 100 due to the effects of rounding.
If a case falls outside the BBRS’ eligibility criteria, the BBRS may still be able to consider it provided the customer, the bank and the BBRS all agree. If we are asked to consider a complaint and we believe we should be able to do so (for example because there is a technical reason why it is ineligible or it has just fallen short of our eligibility criteria), we will write to the bank, explain why we think we should consider it, and we will ask for the bank’s agreement.
The BBRS considered the option of concessionary consideration in all cases which were found ineligible following an Eligibility Assessment.
As of 31 March 2023, the BBRS referred 41 cases to banks for concessionary consideration. Of these, nine cases were taken forward and 29 were not progressed with the BBRS, although some of these cases were taken back by the banks directly afterwards and settled following BBRS involvement. Three cases put forward for concessionary consideration were still awaiting a response from the bank.
The BBRS recognises that there may be some situations when either party feels there is more to be considered about the case and wish to appeal part of, or the whole, Eligibility Assessment, after it is issued.
Permissible grounds of appeal are:
- Mistakes: If there has been a clear error of fact or law in the decision being appealed
- New information: If there is new evidence or information relating to the decision that has only become available since the decision was issued
- Non-compliance with Scheme Rules: If the BBRS, in handling the case, has failed to comply with the Scheme Rules in a material way and this has had a material impact on the outcome
As of 31 March 2023, the BBRS had received 76 appeal notices in relation to Eligibility Assessments. This is from a total of 189 Eligibility Assessments (both open and closed cases) which had been undertaken to this date.
This number is higher than the BBRS originally anticipated. A number of appeals were made on cases registered before the Scheme Rules were agreed and published.
Of the 76 appeal notices that have been received so far:
- We were considering whether one appeal notice had permissible grounds of appeal
- 60 appeals had been unsuccessful as they did not meet the grounds required to go to the appeal panel
- 14 appeals were accepted for consideration by the appeal panel
- One appeal was withdrawn by the customer
Both parties to a complaint can respond to a Provisional Determination after it is issued. Any responses to the Provisional Determination are considered before the issuing of the Determination.
By the end of March 2023, there had been 58 Determinations with a range of outcomes. This is an increase from 44 Determinations issued by the end of December 2022.
The BBRS only reports on closed cases in terms of outcomes. A case is not considered closed until the period for any appeal has passed or there is no further action required. As of 31 March 2023, 42 determined cases had closed. Of these four were upheld in full, 22 were partially upheld (some parts of the case were upheld, whilst other parts were not) and 16 were not upheld. In comparison, as of 31 December 2022 26 cases had closed with four upheld in full, 19 partially upheld and 12 which were not upheld.
Of the 42 closed determined cases, 25 were awarded financial awards and 17 received non-financial awards. Non-financial awards can consist of the BBRS instructing the bank to take steps to put things right that do not involve a financial payment being made and can include, for example, asking the bank to issue a formal apology, releasing a customer from a personal guarantee, waiving a debt, correcting a credit file, or making changes to loan terms or conditions. Non-financial awards can be made in addition to, or instead of, a financial award. These figures include any financial awards issued for distress and Inconvenience, regardless of whether the complaint was substantively upheld.
The number of contemporary complaints being registered with the BBRS has continued to increase; however, historical complaints still make up a large portion of all cases. With the closure of the Historical Scheme, in February 2023, it is expected that the portion of contemporary complaints will increase.
As with previous reports, the data shows that where the BBRS has conducted a formal eligibility assessment, the most common reason for ineligibility remains eligibility for the Financial Ombudsman Services. Where a case is eligible for the Financial Ombudsman Service, it cannot then be eligible for the BBRS.
Not reflected in the figures in this report is the number of cases going through alternative means of resolving disputes. Since its launch, the BBRS has seen levels of trust in non-adjudicative dispute resolution from both banks and customers increasing with both parties more willing to take part in mediation, conciliation, and direct settlement.
As of 31 March 2023, 50 cases had moved from the adjudication process and into non-adjudicative ADR – this has increased from 35 cases as of 31 December 2022. These cases had either received a settlement offer from the responding bank, were in conciliated settlement, or had taken part in mediation.
The BBRS has continued to see a steady increase in both adjudicated and non-adjudicated outcomes and will continue to work towards getting customers a fair and reasonable resolution in as many cases as possible.