Monday 16 September 2019

Lenders won't use time-limit rule to challenge tracker mortgage cases

Ger Deering
Ger Deering
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Two leading banks have said they will not challenge complaints about them taken to the ombudsman into how they handled tracker complaints.

The clarification comes after a number of banks were accused of arguing that mortgage holders affected by the tracker scandal who complained to the Financial Services Ombudsman were out of time to take a case.

Now both Bank of Ireland and KBC Bank have said they will not contest cases based on the time-limit rule.

Financial Services Ombudsman Ger Deering had said some banks were contesting his office's attempts to investigate complaints, claiming they fall outside a legal six-year time limit.

Mr Deering said he was dealing with more than 1,100 complaints related to tracker mortgages.

In a letter sent to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, the ombudsman said some banks, which he did not name, were using the time-limit argument to stop his office probing tracker complaints.

Mr Deering said in his letter that some banks were "rigorously challenging the jurisdiction of this office to deal with complaints where there is a question in relation to whether the complaint was made outside the time limit".

This was despite Mr Deering holding off on looking at tracker complaints during the four years of the Central Bank review of tracker cases to allow that process to conclude. Many tracker cases go back at least a decade.

KBC Bank issued a statement yesterday clarifying its position.

"In the interest of our customers, KBC confirms that it will not challenge time limitations in respect to tracker mortgage complaints with the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) and have advised the FSPO of this."

The bank said it would not challenge tracker cases on the basis that they go back more than six years and said it would work constructively with the ombudsman.

Asked if it was using the time-limit rule to contest challenge tracker mortgage complaints, Danske Bank would only say its complaints "are dealt with on an individual basis and we cannot comment on individual cases".

Bank of Ireland said it had now "taken on board feedback" from the ombudsman. "We confirmed to the ombudsman last week that we are happy that they don't apply a time limit to any tracker mortgage related complaints," it said.

The bank insisted it had not relied on a simple assessment of time limits in relation to tracker-related complaints which had been referred to Mr Deering's office.

Every tracker complaint goes through a thorough process, regardless of the date the complaint was made, it said.

Across all the lenders, some 40,100 borrowers have been identified as losing out from moves by banks to deny them a tracker after the Central Bank told lenders in 2015 to review their tracker mortgage books.

Irish Independent

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