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BBRS SME Liaison Panel

Held virtually and at BBRS offices 1300 – 1500 on Wednesday 13th October 2021


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)
  • Cat MacLean (CM)
  • Katie Matthews (KM)
  • Nikki Turner (NT)


  • Caroline Barr (CB), BBRS Board Member
  • Sally Berlin (SB), Deputy Chief Adjudicator
  • Secretariat, (JL)
  • Dirk Paterson (DP), Customer Director
  • David Rose (DR), Head of Campaigns


  1. Chair’s welcome

The Chair opened the meeting, thanking members for their constructive contributions to the 21st September response to the BBRS Chair, Lewis Shand Smith, regarding the Post-Implementation Review.

The Chair noted that minutes of the Panel meetings would be published in future, with the BBRS informing the Panel where aspects of the discussion would need to remain confidential, or where a delay was necessary before public commentary could be made.

The Chair noted that JL would be leaving the BBRS shortly. DP, recently appointed Customer Director, would be the principal senior contact with the BBRS, with secretariat services being provided by a further BBRS staff member.

  1. Overview of dispute resolution progress to date

SB gave an overview of the first six months of BBRS dispute resolution operations, drawing on the data presented in the embargoed draft of the second BBRS quarterly report (shared in advance with the Panel).

SB noted that it was the BBRS intention in the future to identify thematic insights (e.g., the types of complaint the BBRS was dealing with) with a view to understanding trends, patterns and developments. However, at this early point in the life of the scheme, the need to protect customer anonymity precluded detailed thematic commentary.

Panel members expressed concern that the figures presented about case progression and outcomes did not appear to match the levels of ineligibility decisions reported by their contacts and members of their respective organisations.  It was important that apparent discrepancies between BBRS data and that being reported elsewhere were investigated.

Several Panel members called for the BBRS to release more detailed information and sooner about case progression and outcomes, including about concessionary cases, to enable the Panel to understand the emerging picture of complaints handling.

It was agreed that it would be helpful to compile a list of areas the Panel would ask the BBRS to illuminate in its reports and data to guide future BBRS reporting.

ACTION: Chair to work with Panel members to produce an outline of the Panel’s requests of the BBRS in terms of data/reporting (by 5th November)

  1. BBRS marketing campaign

DR explained the activities the BBRS had undertaken to date to market its services to potential customers, setting out the channels and sectoral/geographical focus of the campaign.

Panel members made several suggestions for the BBRS to pursue: video marketing; contact with the London Chamber of Commerce; outreach to Black and Minority Ethnic business organisations; and to law firms with specialist expertise.

A Panel member asked if it was the right time to market the BBRS when there were concerns about the scope of the scheme. DR responded that it was important to ensure that potential customers of the Historical Scheme were reached now so that they could register before the 14th February 2023 deadline for new complaints.

ACTION: JL to send DR contact details of Panel members who offered follow-up conversations (by 18th Oct)

  1. Post-Implementation Review (PIR)

The Chair set out the main points of the letter from the BBRS Chair in response to the Panel’s feedback on the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the PIR.

Several Panel members expressed a concern that the Panel’s feedback had not been taken on board and that a further response to the BBRS was required. It was agreed that the response should be constructive, seeking assurances that the concerns set out in the Panel’s letter would be addressed by the reviewer.

ACTION: Chair to circulate to Panel members a draft response to the BBRS Chair, noting that the window for sending this was limited, given BBRS plans to progress the PIR (by 18th October)

  1. Sources of information

JL demonstrated the proposed comment form on the BBRS website to allow members of the public/media to contact the Panel to raise issues relevant to its work.

Panel members raised a number of questions: how members of the public would find the web form; how the Panel would analyse content if there were high volumes of submissions; how to balance the possibility of raising public expectations of the Panel in matters outside its powers with the need to understand the full range of customer/public perspectives on the BBRS.

The Panel agreed to a trial of the web comment form.

ACTION: BBRS to confirm wording of the form with the Chair and launch the form on its website (by 22nd October). 

ACTION: Panel to consider results of the trial at its next meeting. 

The Chair set out that the Panel members had valuable insights and intelligence from which both the Panel and the BBRS could benefit. The Panel discussed ways of ensuring this was shared.

ACTION: Chair to request from Panel members a month before each meeting any data or insights Panel members wish to share, or topics for consideration at the meeting. 

  1. AOB 

The Panel agreed that a meeting should be scheduled to take place just before Christmas, with any interim communication in relation to e.g. the PIR to be arranged as required.

ACTION: BBRS to propose a range of dates to Panel members (by 22nd October).

The Panel requested an update on BBRS plans for a permanent CEO, given that the current CEO had been engaged on an interim basis.

ACTION: BBRS to update Panel at next meeting.

The Chair thanked JL for her help in setting up the Panel. JL wished the Panel well in its work.

A Panel member asked if full contact details of the Panel members could be shared with the group.

ACTION: BBRS to send an email to Panel members, requesting full contact details from those willing to share them (by 22nd October).