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Status: You are viewing the version of the handbook as on 2005-06-30.

DISP 1.4 Time limits for dealing with a complaint

Written acknowledgement within five business days

DISP 1.4.1RRP

A firm must send a written acknowledgement of a complaint to the complainant3 within five business days of its receipt, giving the name or job title of the individual handling the complaint for the firm (together with details of the firm's internal complaint handling procedures).

DISP 1.4.2GRP

A firm which is able to provide a final response within five business days of receipt of a complaint may combine its acknowledgement of the complaint with the final response. (For complaints which are subject to the FSAVC review, see DISP 1.4.15 R to DISP 1.4.17 G.)

DISP 1.4.3GRP

A firm should aim to resolve complaints at the earliest possible stage.

Early resolution of complaints

DISP 1.4.3AR

1DISP 1.4.4 R to DISP 1.4.6 R do not apply if the complainant has already indicated in writing acceptance of a response by the firm, provided that the response informed the complainant how to pursue his complaint if he remained dissatisfied.

DISP 1.4.3BG

1DISP 1.4.3A R recognises that the complainant may accept the firm's response at any time during the complaint process and that this may resolve the complaint, even when the firm has not issued a final response. The firm's response need not have referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service, but should have explained how the complaint would be progressed by the firm if the complainant remained dissatisfied.

Final or holding response within four weeks

DISP 1.4.4RRP

A firm must, within four weeks of receiving a complaint, (unless DISP 1.4.3A R1 or DISP 1.4.9 R applies) send the complainant either:

  1. (1)

    a final response; or

  2. (2)

    a holding response, which explains why it is not yet in a position to resolve the complaint and indicates when the firm will make further contact (which must be within eight weeks of receipt of the complaint).

Final or other response within eight weeks

DISP 1.4.5GRP

A firm must, by the end of eight weeks after its receipt of a complaint, (unless DISP 1.4.3A R1 or DISP 1.4.9 R applies) send the complainant either:

  1. (1)

    a final response; or

  2. (2)

    a response which:

    1. (a)

      explains that the firm is still not in a position to make a final response, gives reasons for the further delay and indicates when it expects to be able to provide a final response; and

    2. (b)

      informs the complainant that he may refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if he is dissatisfied with the delay and encloses a copy of the Financial Ombudsman Service's explanatory leaflet.

DISP 1.4.6GRP

2[deleted]1

DISP 1.4.7R

[deleted]1

DISP 1.4.8G

[deleted]1

Firms with two-stage complaints procedures

DISP 1.4.9R

Where, within eight weeks of receiving a complaint, the firm sends the complainant a written response which:

  1. (1)

    offers redress (whether or not it accepts the complaint) or rejects the complaint and gives reasons for doing so;

  2. (2)

    informs the complainant how to pursue his complaint with the firm if he remains dissatisfied;

  3. (3)

    refers to the ultimate availability of the Financial Ombudsman Service if he remains dissatisfied with the firm's response; and

  4. (4)

    indicates that it will regard the complaint as closed if it does not receive a reply within eight weeks;

the firm is not obliged to continue to comply with DISP 1.4.4 R or DISP 1.4.5 G unless the complainant indicates that he remains dissatisfied, in which case, the obligation to comply with DISP 1.4.5 G resumes.

DISP 1.4.10R

If the complainant takes more than a week to reply to a written response of the kind described in DISP 1.4.9 R, the additional time in excess of a week will not count for the purposes of the time limits in DISP 1.4.4 R - DISP 1.4.6 R.

DISP 1.4.11G
  1. (1)

    DISP 1.4.9 R caters for the situation where a firm's complaints procedures provide for a complainant who is dissatisfied with the firm's response to refer the complaint back to the firm again or to the firm's head office before a final response is issued.

  2. (2)

    Such firms are subject to the time limits in DISP 1.4.4 R to DISP 1.4.6 R in the same way as any other firm. However, DISP 1.4.9 R recognises that some complainants may never respond to a firm or may take a long time to do so.

  3. (3)

    Provided that the firm has sent a letter which complies with the conditions in DISP 1.4.9 R within eight weeks of receiving the complaint:

    1. (a)

      if the complainant does not reply at all, the firm is not required to send a final response;

    2. (b)

      if the complainant does not reply within eight weeks of the firm's letter, DISP 1.5.7 R(3) enables the firm to treat the complaint as a closed complaint for the purposes of the reporting requirement in DISP 1.5.4 R;

    3. (c)

      if the complainant does reply (within or after eight weeks), the firm is required to continue to comply with DISP 1.4.5 G, and the time limits in DISP 1.4.5 G therefore resume. But DISP 1.4.10 R allows the firm to discount, for the purposes of the time limits in DISP 1.4.4 R to DISP 1.4.6 R, any time in excess of a week taken by the complainant to reply.

  4. (4)

    The FSA expects that firms operating a two-stage complaints procedure will wish to provide complainants with easy access to the second stage of the process (for example, by referring complaints on to the next stage for them if they remain dissatisfied).

The final response

DISP 1.4.12R

When a firm sends a complainant its final response, the final response must:

  1. (1)

    inform the complainant that he may refer the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if he is dissatisfied with the final response and that he must do so within six months; and

  2. (2)

    enclose a copy of the Financial Ombudsman Service's explanatory leaflet (unless it has already done so under DISP 1.4.5 G(2)(b)).

DISP 1.4.13G

Copies of the Financial Ombudsman Service's explanatory leaflet may be reproduced under licence or can be obtained from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

DISP 1.4.14G

Under DISP 1.4.5 G and DISP 1.4.6 R:

  1. (1)

    a complainant can refer his complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service if he receives a final response with which he is dissatisfied or the firm has had at least eight weeks to resolve the complaint and has failed to do so in that time; the complainant may decide whether to give the firm more time before exercising any right he may have to refer a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service;

  2. (2)

    the six month time limit within which a complainant must refer a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service begins at the date when the final response is sent by the firm.

Complaints subject to the FSAVC review

DISP 1.4.15R

DISP 1.4.1 R to DISP 1.4.14 G and DISP 1.5.1 R and DISP 1.5.4 R do not apply where the complaint is subject to a review directly or indirectly under the terms of the policy statement for the review of specific categories of FSAVC business issued by the FSA on 28 February 2000.

DISP 1.4.16R

Where DISP 1.4.15 R applies, the firm must, if the complainant remains dissatisfied on completion of that review, treat that expression of dissatisfaction as a complaint and comply with DISP 1.4.1 R, DISP 1.4.14 G, DISP 1.5.1 R and DISP 1.5.4 R.

DISP 1.4.17G

The effect of DISP 1.4.15 R is to relieve the firm of the obligation to comply with the requirements and time limits for replying to complainants, and the record-keeping and reporting requirements in DISP 1.5.1 R and DISP 1.5.4 R, where a complaint is subject to the FSAVC review. However, if a complainant remains dissatisfied with the outcome of the review, DISP 1.4.16 R requires the firm to treat this as a complaint and comply with these requirements just as it would in respect of any other complaint. Firms are therefore required to record and report such complaints only where they receive a complaint about the outcome of the review.

3Referring complaints

DISP 1.4.18R
  1. (1)

    3A firm which has reasonable grounds to be satisfied that another firm may be solely responsible for the fault alleged in a complaint may refer the complaint to that other firm, but if it does so it must:

    1. (a)

      refer the complaint promptly and in any event within five business days of the date on which it became satisfied that such other firm may be responsible for the subject matter of the complaint;

    2. (b)

      make the referral using a durable medium; and

    3. (c)

      inform the complainant of the referral by way of a final response and include the other firm's contact details.

  2. (2)

    3A firm which has reasonable grounds to be satisfied that another firm may be jointly responsible for the fault alleged in a complaint, may refer the complaint to that other firm but if it does so it must:

    1. (a)

      refer the complaint promptly and in any event with five business days of the date on which it became satisfied that such other firm may be jointly responsible for the subject matter of the complaint;

    2. (b)

      make the referral on a durable medium;

    3. (c)

      at the same time inform the complainant of the referral and include the other firm's contact details; and

    4. (d)

      comply with the obligations in DISP as to the investigation of that part of the complaint that is the firm's responsibility and, as soon as possible, inform the complainant of the outcome by a final response.

3Dealing with a referred complaint

DISP 1.4.19R

3When a firm receives a complaint referred to it under DISP 1.4.18 R, the complaint is treated for the purposes of DISP as if made directly to that firm, and as if received by it when the referral was received.

DISP 1.4.20G

3On receiving a complaint referred by another firm, the standard time limits will apply from the date on which the firm receives the referral. In particular, DISP 1.4.1 R requires the firm to send a written acknowledgement to the complainant within five business days. A firm should copy this acknowledgement to the firm which made the referral.