Sunday 11 December 2016

Watchdog told to look again at architect's bank gripe

Published 19/11/2011 | 05:00

THE Financial Services Ombudsman has been told to re-examine complaints made by an architect about Bank of Ireland.

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Roisin Hyde had complained about her treatment by the bank after she took out a large loan in 2007. In May this year, the Ombudsman rejected three of her four complaints.

Ms Hyde challenged this rejection and yesterday the High Court ruled there had been "serious and significant errors" by the Ombudsman.

It also found that the Ombudsman should have held an oral hearing to resolve the issues.

Ms Hyde claimed she was offered a loan of €965,000 in March 2007 to buy and renovate a property.

The sum consisted of €715,000 to buy the property and €250,000 for renovation. The €715,000 was drawn down in April 2007 but the repayments were not debited from her account. A disagreement ensued over whose responsibility it was to set up a standing order or direct debit for payments.

Ms Hyde believed she had been offered some "breathing space" by the bank to allow her pay stamp duty and legal fees, but in August 2007 she received a letter from the bank requesting immediate payment as none had yet been received.

Onerous

Ms Hyde complained to the Ombudsman that the error was the bank's but it had still demanded immediate payment. She also complained that the bank had not paid over the €250,000 allegedly agreed for the renovation, and that this caused her severe financial hardship.

In addition, she said the bank had refused to issue further finance unless she agreed to "onerous conditions". The bank had argued it only agreed to loan Ms Hyde €715,000.

After examining the complaints, the Ombudsman rejected three of Ms Hyde's four claims.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross noted Ms Hyde's central complaint was that she had an oral agreement with the bank to give her a loan of €965,000 but it only provided €715,000.

That issue could only be resolved by an oral hearing and the Ombudsman's failure to do that represented a serious and significant error, he found.

The judge also ruled that there should have been an oral hearing on the dispute over when the loan repayments were to have been activated.

Ms Hyde also won an earlier challenge to an earlier decision, in July 2009, by the Ombudsman on her complaints.

Irish Independent

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