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DISP 2.3 Time Limits for referral of complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service

DISP 2.3.1RRP
  1. (1)

    The Ombudsman cannot consider a complaint (except as described in (2)) if the complainant refers it to the Financial Ombudsman Service:

    1. (a)

      less than eight weeks after receipt of the complaint by the firm or VJ participant, unless the firm or VJ participant has already sent the complainant its final response; or

    2. (b)

      more than six months after the date on which the firm or VJ participant sends the complainant its final response advising him that he may refer his complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service; or2

    3. (c)

      more than six years after the event complained of or (if later) more than three years from the date on which he became aware (or ought reasonably to have become aware) that he had cause for complaint, unless he has referred the complaint to the firm or VJ participant or to the Ombudsman within that period and has a written acknowledgement or some other record of the complaint having been received (but see DISP 2.3.5 G - DISP 2.3.6 R).1

  2. (2)

    The Ombudsman can consider complaints outside the time limits in (1)(b) or (c) or in DISP 2.3.6 R3 when, in his view, the failure to comply with the time limits was as a result of exceptional circumstances or where he is required to do so by the Ombudsman Transitional Order (see DISP 2.3.2 G) or where the firm or VJ participant has not objected to the Ombudsman considering the complaint.4

DISP 2.3.1AGRP

1If the complaint relates to the sale of an endowment policy for the purpose of achieving capital repayment of a mortgage, the receipt by the complainant of a letter which states that there is a risk (rather than a high risk) that the policy would not, at maturity, produce a sum large enough to repay the target amount is not, itself, sufficient to cause the three year time period in DISP 2.3.1 R (1)(c) to start to run.

DISP 2.3.2GRP

In relation to DISP 2.3.1 R (1)(b) and (c), article 4(2) of the Ombudsman Transitional Order requires an Ombudsman to extend the time limit in respect of a relevant new complaint referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service not later than twelve months after commencement, so the time limit applying to the complaint is the same as that which would have applied under the former scheme in question as it had effect immediately before commencement.

DISP 2.3.3GRP

For the purposes of DISP 2.3.1 R (2), an example of an exceptional circumstance might be where the complainant has been or is incapacitated or where the firm or VJ participant has failed, in its final response, to inform the complainant that he may refer his complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service or that he must do so within six months.

DISP 2.3.4RRP

Under DISP 5.6.1 R a firm or VJ participant is liable to pay a case fee in respect of chargeable cases. However, in some circumstances, the Ombudsman may conclude that a firm or VJ participant should have more time to resolve a complaint before a case fee is incurred (for example, where there has been delay in obtaining information from third parties or where the Ombudsman considers that the complainant has not fully cooperated with the firm or VJ participant in the investigation of the complaint).

Exceptions for reviews of past business

DISP 2.3.5GRP

DISP 2.3.1 R (1)(c) does not apply where:

  1. (1)

    the time limit has been extended under a scheme for review of past business approved by the Treasury under section 404 of the Act (Schemes for reviewing past business); or

  2. (2)

    the complaint concerns a contract or policy which is the subject of a review directly or indirectly under:

    1. (a)

      the terms of the Statement of Policy on 'Pension transfers and Opt-outs' issued by the FSA on 25 October 1994; or

    2. (b)

      the terms of the policy statement for the review of specific categories of FSAVC business issued by the FSA on 28 February 2000.

Exceptions for certain3 mortgage endowment complaints

DISP 2.3.6R
  1. (1)

    1If a complaint relates to the sale of an endowment policy for the purpose of achieving capital repayment of a mortgage and the complainant receives a letter from a firm or a VJ participant warning that there is a high risk that the policy will not, at maturity, produce a sum large enough to repay the target amount then, subject to (2), (3), (4) and (5):3

    1. (a)

      time for referring a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service starts to run from the date the complainant receives the letter; and3

    2. (b)

      ends three years from that date ("the final date").

  2. (2)

    3Paragraph (1)(b) applies only if the complainant also receives within the three year period mentioned in (1)(b) and at least six months before the final date an explanation that the complainant's time to refer such a complaint would expire at the final date.

  3. (3)

    3If an explanation is given but is sent outside the period referred to in (2), time for referring a complaint will run until a date specified in such an explanation which must not be less than six months after the date on which the notice is sent.

  4. (4)

    3A complainant will be taken to have complied with the time limits in (1) to (3) above if in any case he refers the complaint to the firm or VJ participant within those limits and has a written acknowledgement or some other record of the complaint having been received.

  5. (5)

    Paragraph (1) does not apply if the Ombudsman is of the opinion that, in the circumstances of the case, it is appropriate for DISP 2.3.1 R(1)(c) to apply.3