On 26 September 2000, after some speedy consultation, the Banking and Building Society Ombudsmen issued a joint note – to consumers and the industry, under the FOS banner – setting out the general principles the ombudsmen would be likely to apply when resolving TESSA complaints. There are about six million households in the UK with endowment mortgages and many of those had received, or were about to receive, letters from insurance companies giving fresh projections of what their policy proceeds were likely to be. The press was carrying stories almost daily about endowment policy shortfalls and, in some of the cases where the letters forecast shortfalls, policyholders felt they had cause for complaint.
So again, to help policyholders and the industry, on 5 October 2000 the FOS issued a note giving an outline of the approach that the ombudsmen had adopted so far in dealing with this type of complaint. In both sets of guidance the ombudsmen’s approach was based (amongst other things) on their interpretation of the law, any relevant industry code or regulator’s rules and principles, and good industry practice. Web Portal Design Both guidance notes received wide media coverage, and several banks and building societies have since asked the ombudsmen for further clarification to help them settle even more TESSA complaints themselves.
The flow of new TESSA complaints to the FOS has now tailed off considerably, although the same can’t quite be said (or at least not to the same extent) for endowment mortgage complaints. And one thing is certain; had the FOS not taken the sort of preemptive action it did, when it did, it would have far more TESSA and endowment complaints to deal with today than it actually has – because far fewer would have been resolved by the industry at an earlier stage.
ADR is a range of methods of resolving disputes that until recently have fallen outside the realm of ‘traditional’ dispute resolution or, more specifically, litigation. I say ‘until recently’ because the past few years have seen a shift in ADR’s profile toward the mainstream as mediation, arbitration, and other ADR methods become more established within the arena of legal services.