Out-Law News 1 min. read

FSA gives consumers more time to lodge PPI complaints

Consumers who have recently complained about payment protection insurance will not face the usual six-month time limit for referring their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced last week.

Under existing rules, businesses that receive a complaint must send the consumer a final written response within eight weeks. If not satisfied, the consumer then has six months to take the matter to the FOS. In most cases, the FOS will not be able to consider a complaint after this time limit has expired.

But the FSA is concerned that some complainants will run out of time while it works to finalise new rules and guidance aimed at ensuring firms handle PPI complaints fairly and consistently.

The regulator's revised proposals on PPI complaints handling and redress were published in March but it is not yet known when they will be finalised. Implementation will take place in two stages, with provisions on assessing claims coming into effect after one month and sections on calculating redress after three months.
In the meantime, the FSA's temporary rule will mean the normal six-month time limit for lodging a complaint with the FOS is suspended for PPI complainants who received a final response from the firm between 28th November 2009 and 28th April 2010. The new rule came into effect on 28th May and will run until 27th October.

Announcing the measure, the FSA said: "We made the transitional rule without consultation. This is in the interest of the complainants specified in the rule, who would otherwise lose their ability to complain to the FOS due to falling outside the time limit and would be left potentially unable to secure fair outcomes where firms have not assessed their complaints fairly."

In its annual review of 2009/10, the FOS reported that it had received 58% more PPI complaints than in the previous year, double the number that had been anticipated.

Although the ombudsman has seen some improvements in the standard of complaints handling since the pervious year's review, overall quality remained "patchy", with a number of firms continuing to reject complaints that the FOS says clearly should have been upheld.

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