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BBRS SME Liaison Panel

Held virtually and at BBRS offices 1400 – 1700 on Thursday 7 April 2022


SME Liaison Panel:

  • Antony Townsend (AT), Chair
  • Janine Alexander (JA)
  • Tony Baron (TB)
  • Mark Bishop (MB)
  • Heather Buchanan (HB)
  • Diana Chrouch (DC)
  • Nish Kotecha (NK)
  • Katie Matthews (KM)
  • Andy Keats (AK), acting as Nikki Turner’s alternate

Apologies: Cat MacLean (CM)


  • Dirk Paterson (DP), Customer Director
  • Shamila Begum (SB), Senior Analyst – Customer Strategy and Correspondence
  • Ethan Kelly (EK), Communications and Stakeholder Officer
  • Alexandra Marks (AM), Chief Adjudicator
  • David Rose (DR), Customer Directorate
  • Mike Robinson (MR), Head of Technical Operations
  • Lyndy Geddes (LG), Director of Operations


1. Chair’s introduction and opening discussion

The Chair opened the meeting by expressing that whilst progress was being made around reaching SMEs and providing clearer case data, he felt that the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) part 1 report was not reflective of the Panel’s view of the BBRS’s set up and practice.

The Panel were invited to share opening remarks, with several members echoing the Chair’s initial comments regarding PIR part 1. Some panel members saw PIR part 1 as a particular missed opportunity and questioned the BBRS’s eligibility criteria and the independence of the PIR process. Some panel members said that if they did not see changes made to the eligibility criteria or their criticisms reflected in the PIR part 2 process then they would consider their positions on the panel.

TB stated that he would like the views of the SME Liaison Panel to be better represented in PIR part 2.

DC stressed the importance of ensuring that the BBRS scheme remained accessible to ethnic minority members of the SME community.

Speaking from the BBRS team, DP said that we will note these comments and reminded the panel that the BBRS is here to listen. He asked for constructive comments on how we can build trust between the Panel and the BBRS.

The Panel, led by MB, requested clarity on the Bank Appointed Member role within the BBRS’s corporate structure. DP offered to provide clarity on this via the Chair.

2. Update on the SME Liaison Panel Chair’s meeting with BBRS Chief Executive Mark Grimshaw

The Chair shared that he was pleased to have met face-to-face with MG, prior to the Liaison Panel meeting, and that they had agreed to meet regularly.

He explained he had begun the meeting with MG by stating that he was frustrated by the PIR part 1 report, as he felt he had worked hard to ensure that this had SME input but saw the final report as not representative of this. MG offered to keep the Chair updated on the PIR part 2 process, the plans of which are due to be announced shortly.

The Chair expressed his disappointment around not having been able to publish his letter regarding PIR part 1 to the BBRS website. He reported to the Panel that MG had suggested he would look into ways of allowing the SME Liaison Panel to publish content in the future.

TB and AK shared that SMEs have been coming to them with both banking issues and BBRS service complaints, hoping that, because they are on the panel, they could help escalate these. DP reminded the panel that the BBRS is an independent organisation performing against the scheme rules, and that there is a process for complaints about the BBRS’s service. He urged SME customers to share these concerns through the official channels.

3. Eligibility Governance

Shamila Begum (SB), Senior Analyst – Customer Strategy and Correspondence, introduced two documents provided to the panel prior to the meeting. These addressed an SME Liaison Panel request for clarity on how changes to the BBRS eligibility criteria can be proposed. Prior to the meeting the Panel received:

  • A reference document detailing the BBRS’ current eligibility conditions
  • A two-page sheet detailing the process governing rule changes

MB said that there were multiple parts to the process, including several participating bank sign off steps. Concern around the complexity of rule change was echoed by other members of the Panel.

DP highlighted that this process has always been in place, and these documents simply clarify existing rules.

The letter from Philip Hammond published around the launch of the BBRS suggested that the BBRS scheme should resolve a meaningful number of cases. DP asked the panel what a meaningful number of cases would look like to them.

JA said that the Walker Report highlighted that there was a gap in access to justice for medium-sized SMEs, and went on to imply that adherence to the original aims of the Walker Report would represent a meaningful outcome.

ACTION: SME Liaison Panel agreed to discuss the eligibility governance documents together offline

4. Update on SME diversity/accessibility project from David Rose

DR explained the BBRS had launched a specific campaign focused on encouraging ethnic minority SME registrations alongside the wider marketing campaign which ran last year, and that the BBRS was also committed to diversity and equality monitoring.

He added that from the end of April the BBRS was going to begin ethnic minority and disability monitoring for current and future case registrations. He confirmed that this was data compliant as it did not map this information to specific customers.

The first set of data from this project will be ready for analysis by June 2022, and he suggested providing quarterly reports from then. DR added that he was happy for people to raise any questions offline too.

There were no questions or concerns from the panel at this stage.

ACTION: DR to provide further updates to the Panel via the diversity sub-committee

5. Update on case data from Lyndy Geddes, Mike Robinson and Alexandra Marks

LG said that following discussions in the data sub-committee the intention was to provide 4 reports monthly: An aggregate scheme report with some analysis, a historical scheme report, a contemporary scheme report and a report detailing case registrations with an as yet unestablished date of complaint.

She clarified that for awards, these numbers only indicate when an award has been made following adjudication. What it does not cover are the cases where mediation has been used as a non-adjudicative alternative dispute resolution technique. These cases are not always represented in the case or award data and therefore assumptions around total compensation amounts can be unhelpful.

LG added that even if customers are willing for this information to be published the bank may not be, and the BBRS must respect both parties. LG said that when deciding whether it is appropriate to publish financial data related to adjudication awards, the BBRS must consider that member banks are also commercial competitors and may not allow the data to be published for this reason.

AT suggested to AK and MB that further specific questions regarding case progress and financial data can be requested offline and via the data sub-committee.

Some of the panel, including the Chair and NK, thanked the BBRS team for their progress on data reporting.

AM elaborated on LG’s point that there have been as many cases resolved between the parties themselves as there have through formal adjudication, suggesting without the BBRS the bank may not have been brought to the negotiating table. She added that based on recent case registration activity, we are expecting determinations to accelerate.

ACTION: BBRS to continue to update the Panel on case data via the data sub-committee

6. AOB

MB requested that his SME Liaison Panel participation fee be donated. DP responded that it is not possible to pay fees directly to organisations as this would require background checking and due diligence from the BBRS’s finance team, but that MB was welcome to donate his fee once it had been paid to him.

MB raised John Swift QC’s report into the FCA’s redress scheme and suggested that this could have an impact on the BBRS. DP thanked MB for raising this and said that he would look into it.

The Chair thanked the Panel and the BBRS representatives. In his closing remarks he suggested the key upcoming points to consider for the Panel were: the upcoming PIR part 2 process, making recommendations based on the rule change process outlined in the eligibility governance documents, ensuring these conversations remain inclusive, and maintaining constructive work in the diversity and data sub committees.