Islanders with complaints about mis-selling of financial products before 2010 will not be able to take their cases to the newly-appointed financial ombudsman, says a former Solicitor General now working in private practice.
Howard Sharp QC of Central Chambers has warned that while the appointment of the new ombudsman is a welcome development, anyone looking to pursue a case that dates back beyond 2010 will still have to use the traditional court process
Central Chambers are running a clinic for mis-selling cases next Tuesday at their Hill Street premises from 3 pm to 7 pm - anyone wanting to book a slot has been asked to get in touch with the firm.
Disputes often arise in “mis-selling cases” which typically feature consumers being sold financial products that are unsuitable for their needs. In some cases, the consumer will not have been provided with all relevant information, including details as to the risk of financial loss or the commissions charged. The need for an ombudsman in Jersey is reflected in part by the UK’s recent experience. By the end of 2015 the total amount set aside by the big five banks for PPI mis-selling compensation had reached £32 billion, with more than £3 billion paid out to customers last year alone.
Despite the introduction of the ombudsman's office, it will remain the case that any complaints about problems arising before 1st January 2010 are outside the ombudsman’s jurisdiction. This means that a legal action could be the only way for some people to make claims for compensation in respect of financial products that were mis-sold.
Advocate Sharp said: “There’s no doubt that Jersey needs an ombudsman and, like many people, I am pleased that we have finally appointed someone to the position. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for him to deal with issues arising before 2010. This means that for people who were, for example mis-sold products prior to that date, they will still have to rely on the courts in order to assess the possibility of receiving compensation.
“Understandably people can be put off by the cost of legal fees, so I believe it is fair to offer an initial free consultation to people. In the meeting, we will be able to discuss their case and help them make an initial determination as to whether it is worth going further down the legal route.”
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