Channel Islands financial ombudsman 'may be in place by 2015'

A service aimed at ensuring complaints about financial businesses are resolved could be available in the Channel Islands by the end of year.

Currently, customers unhappy with how a complaint has been dealt with can only pursue the issue through the courts.

The free service would be open to the customers of any financial services company operating in the islands.

It would be funded by fees paid by the companies and could award payments of up to £150,000.

The date of opening a financial ombudsman office is not "set in stone", according to Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Department.

A spokesman said this was because there was "significant work" still be done including changes in both islands' law.

He said creating the office had been recommended in external and international reports to ensure complaints "are resolved independently, effectively [and] quickly".

The office would not set rules or fine businesses if any rules were broken, which is the role of the regulators - the Guernsey and Jersey financial services commissions.

The spokesman said the office would be funded by most financial services entities in the islands - with set up costs of £183,000 and annual running costs in excess of £500,000.

He said they would pay an initial start up fee of £500 and then £500 each year, with banks paying more annually as they were likely to use the scheme more.

Both islands' governments have been discussing introducing a financial ombudsman for at least 10 years.

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