Wednesday 21 March 2018

Time limit for financial complaints to be changed

Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke
Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

The Government has published legislation to change the six-year time limit on taking complaints to the financial services ombudsman.

The rule has led the ombudsman to throw out hundreds of complaints relating to the mis-selling of mortgages, trackers and endowment policies.

More than 800 complaints a year are thought to be rejected by the ombudsman, often because they fall foul of the six-year rule.

Now Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and the Minister of State for Financial Services Eoghan Murphy have published the General Scheme of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2016.

Section five of the bill allows for the ombudsman to consider complaints for products or services bought more than six years ago.

This refers to pensions products and the likes of mortgages.

Under the provisions in the bill, complaints can be made six years from the date of the conduct giving rise to the dispute, even if the product was bought years ago.

The legislation is primarily concerned with the merger of the financial services ombudsman’s office with that of the pensions ombudsman. The pensions ombudsman is not subject to the six-year rule.

Minister Murphy said: “This legislation concerning the hearing of consumer complaints by the ombudsman is important legislation and should help improve the service to the consumer of financial services and pensions provided by two existing bodies.”

As the law now stands, consumers have no redress for payment protection insurance or other financial products bought more than six years ago.

This is seen as unfair because it takes a lot longer than six years before a problem becomes apparent with long-term financial products such as mortgages, pensions and investments.

It is not clear if the new provision on the six-year rule will be retrospective.

Online Editors

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business