In The Event Of A Dispute: The Ombudsman As A Middle Ground Between Surrender And Complaint. Ombudsmen mediate in disputes between customers and banks, insurance companies, building societies or other institutions. In some cases, they can make binding decisions for providers. Such arbitration is free of charge for the customer. The ombudsman procedure is therefore an alternative to court proceedings.
The essentials in brief:
- Ombudsmen mediate in disputes between you and your bank, building society, insurance company or another institution. In some cases, they can make binding decisions for providers.
- The procedure is free of charge for you. It offers an alternative to the legal process.
- If you do not agree with the ombudsman’s proposal, you still have legal recourse.
What is the ombudsman procedure?
It happens again and again that a customer and his bank, insurance company, building society or another institute have different opinions on a certain matter.
Points of dispute are, for example, a fee billed, an insurance benefit not granted or the amount of bonus interest in a building society loan agreement. Before consumers think about enforcing their interests through the legal process, it can be worthwhile to call in an ombudsman. This is possible without representation by a lawyer. Ombudsmen, who exist in many different industries, have the role of mediator. You take action based on a complaint submitted by the consumer, obtain a statement from the other party and finally make a mediation proposal. This is only binding for the respective institute in a few cases and is never binding for the consumer.
What are the advantages of an ombudsman procedure?
Engaging an ombudsman has several advantages for consumers:
- He does not incur any costs because the arbitration board is financed by the institutes. This does not include your own costs, such as postage for submitting documents. If the arbitrator’s verdict is unsatisfactory, the customer continues to have legal recourse. The same applies if the institute rejects the ombudsman’s arbitration ruling.
- Using the ombudsman usually leads to a so-called suspension of the statute of limitations. This means that the claim cannot expire for the duration of the arbitration procedure. A (more expensive) court proceeding has such an effect of preventing the statute of limitations. If you initiate the procedure to suspend the statute of limitations, you must first make sure that the suspension can actually occur! Also clarify the date until which the statute of limitations is suspended in your specific case.
When is an ombudsman procedure not possible?
The ombudsman does not act in all cases. So the arbitration process cannot be used if, for example
- The customer and the institute have agreed
- the legal process has been taken – i.e. a lawsuit has been filed in court
- another arbitration board has already been engaged,
- certain amounts in dispute are exceeded,
- the customer only wants legal advice / legal information or
- a possible claim has already expired and the institute invokes the statute of limitations.
On what basis does the ombudsman make decisions?
The arbitration boards only decide on the basis of the documents submitted and the descriptions of the facts by those involved. Witnesses, such as employees of the institute, are not heard.