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BBRS Quarterly Insight Report – July 2022

25 July 2022

Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) Quarterly Insight Report – July 2022  

The BBRS was established to help Small and Medium sized business Enterprises (SMEs) who have not had access to other forms of dispute resolution. The BBRS does this by giving eligible businesses the opportunity to have their complaint heard and independently reviewed.

The organisation’s key goal remains to resolve disputes fairly 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.

This is the fifth Quarterly Insights Report, providing information about the BBRS’ casework data between our launch on 15 February 2021 through to 30 June 2022.

In the last Quarterly Insights Report the BBRS reported that it had adjudicated and issued Determinations on 11 cases with a further 15 being resolved by non-adjudicative means (i.e. settlements, mediation, conciliation). As at 30 June 2022 the BBRS had issued 22 Determinations with a further 21 cases being resolved by non-adjudicative means. This shows the number of resolutions is increasing steadily.

Customers have continued to be at the heart of what we do, and the BBRS remains focused on delivering an excellent customer experience.

Registrations 

As at 30 June 2022, the BBRS had a total of 829 registered cases. This is an increase of 53 cases from 31 March 2022.

Of the 829 cases registered with the BBRS, 59% were historic cases (relating to complaints between 2001 and 2019), 19% were contemporary cases (relating to complaints since 2019) and 22% had not yet been established as either historic or contemporary due to insufficient preliminary customer data.

When the BBRS launched in February 2021, the number of cases 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 historic cases has fallen whilst the number of contemporary cases has increased. This trend is as expected, as awareness of the service grows.

The number of historic cases being registered may increase, going forward, as the BBRS launches an awareness campaign to encourage complainants under the historical scheme before this scheme closes to new complaints on 14 February 2023.

Total Percentage
Historic 490 59%
Contemporary 159 19%
Unestablished date of complaint 180 22%
Total 829

The total number of cases registered with the BBRS.

Case Status 

As at 30 June 2022, the BBRS had 117 open cases and 712 closed cases. In comparison, there were 161 open cases and 615 closed cases as at 31 March 2022.

Of the 829 cases that had come to the BBRS, 597 were closed for reasons not related to ineligibility. This could have included, for example, the removal of duplicate cases, customers withdrawing their complaint from the process or closure of a case due to prolonged customer inaction.

Cases that were closed due to prolonged customer inaction were de-registered. These cases had not generally been the subject of a formal Eligibility Assessment, and these customers can re-register in the future if they wish to do so. Cases were only de-registered following sustained and unsuccessful efforts to communicate with the customer.

As at 30 June 2022, all cases were on desk and all customers were receiving support from the casework team.

The BBRS continues to actively work with customers on progressing cases as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Total Percentage
Live 117 14%
Closed 712 86%
Total 829

 

Eligibility 

The BBRS treats all cases as eligible until it establishes the facts relating to each complaint. When a complaint is first assembled, relevant information is collected to check eligibility. Where there is a clear early challenge or lack of clarity, 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.

After a case has received a formal Eligibility Assessment from a Case Assessor, the case may be subject to appeal by either party.

As of 30 June 2022, of the open cases, 100 were progressing as being eligible for the BBRS compared to 17 cases that had been assessed as ineligible, although this number could decrease, subject to appeal. Of the closed cases, 111 were found to be ineligible.

The eligibility of every case is kept under review throughout the entire 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 30 June 2022, 41% of the 111 ineligible cases had more than one reason making them ineligible for consideration.

Concessionary Cases

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 the concessionary case process in all cases which were found ineligible following an Eligibility Assessment.

As of 30 June 2022, the BBRS referred 27 cases to banks for the concessionary case process. Of these, seven cases were taken forward and 19 were not progressed. One case was awaiting a bank response.

Eligibility Appeals

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 30 June 2022, the BBRS had received 57 appeals notices in relation to Eligibility Assessments. This is from a total of 147 Eligibility Assessments which had been undertaken to this date.

This number was higher than the organisation originally anticipated. Many cases were registered before the Scheme Rules were agreed and published, and the BBRS went live.

Of the 57 appeal notices that have been received so far:

  • An appeals panel was considering four appeal notices
  • 41 appeals had been unsuccessful as they did not meet the grounds required
  • 12 appeals were accepted for consideration by the panel.

Determinations 

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.

There have so far been 22 Determinations, with a range of outcomes. This is an increase from 11 Determinations issued by the end of March 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 at 30 June 2022, 16 cases had closed. Of these two were upheld in full, 12 were partially upheld and two were not upheld. In comparison, as at 31 March 2022 eight cases had closed with one upheld in full, six partially upheld and one which was not upheld.

Of the 16 closed cases, 12 were awarded financial awards and four received non-financial awards. These figures include any financial awards issued for distress and Inconvenience, regardless of whether the complaint was substantively upheld.

Conclusion 

The BBRS continues to see customers registering cases for the service, with a more balanced split between historical and contemporary cases. This is expected to continue into the remainder of 2022.

Where a case has been found to be ineligible through formal assessment, eligibility for the Financial Ombudsman Services remains the most common reason. A fundamental principle has long been that the jurisdiction of the BBRS cannot overlap with the jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service because it is a statutory body.

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 alternative dispute resolution from both banks and customers increasing.

As at 30 June 2022, 21 cases had moved from the adjudication process and into non-adjudicative ADR – this has increased from 15 cases as at 31 March 2022. These cases had either received settlement offers from the responding bank, or were in conciliated settlement, or were taking 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.