Complaints handling by financial services firms
Complaints handling by financial services firms

The following Financial Services guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Complaints handling by financial services firms
  • Definition of 'complaint'
  • Application
  • Consumer awareness rules
  • Complaints handling rules
  • Complaints resolution rules
  • Complaints resolved within a short time frame
  • Complaints resolved by close of the third business day
  • Complaints time limit rules
  • Complaints forwarding rules
  • more

The rules for how firms should deal with complaints by customers are contained in the Dispute Resolution: Complaints Sourcebook (DISP) in the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) handbook.

DISP 1 contains rules and guidance on how firms should deal with complaints promptly and fairly, including complaints that could be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Some of these rules also apply to certain branches of firms elsewhere in the EEA and certain EEA firms carrying out activities in the UK under the freedom to provide cross border services. DISP 1 is entitled 'Treating complainants fairly', which illustrates the high priority the FCA places on fair treatment of those who complain about a financial service they have received.

The DISP rules are detailed and specific, including rules on consumer awareness (DISP 1.2); complaints handling (DISP 1.3); the recording of complaints (DISP 1.9); complaints reporting (DISP 1.10); and complaints data publication (DISP 1.10A). Firms consequently have very little discretion as to how to handle complaints. This is because the FCA wishes to ensure that consumers are not unduly disadvantaged by the fact they tend to come from a less powerful and informed position than the firm they may be complaining about.

In July 2015, following feedback on consultation paper CP14/30, the FCA issued a policy statement introducing rules with respect to firms' complaints handling procedures,