Financial Services Regulation

Questions (238)

Clare Daly

Question:

238. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the statute of limitations so that claims can be made against financial institutions that misssold financial products. [10722/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The mis-selling of financial products is a matter of ongoing public concern. It has been raised by consumer groups and by the media, as well as in successive reports of the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman, which has previously noted:

The current economic climate has affected many consumers across the range of complaints received, however it is most pointedly seen in the complaints regarding investments products. The main area of complaint with regards to investments is the alleged mis-selling of these policies. This complaint type accounted for over 37% of investment complaints for the period 2007-2010. The majority of complaints relate to the consumers’ contention that they were sold unsuitable products.

Its biannual review for July to December 2012, the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman again highlighted the mis-selling of financial products, noting that "Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) complaints, representing 32% of all insurance complaints in 2012, have increased by 216% on 2011 figures", from 405 in 2011 to 1,280 in 2012, and that, "in general, the main feature of the complaints concern the suitability of PPI for the consumer and the consumer's knowledge or lack thereof that they agreed to and paid for the product in the first instance". I am also aware that the Central Bank has sought a review by banks of the sale of PPI and the refund of customers who could never claim under that insurance as purchased.

While it is not under the aegis of my Department, the Financial Services Ombudsman was established under the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004 and became operational on 1 April 2005. It is a statutory body funded by levies from the financial service providers. The Financial Services Ombudsman can investigate, in an impartial and independent manner, complaints from individual customers and small businesses who have unresolved disputes with Financial Service Providers who are either regulated by the Financial Regulator or are subject to the terms of the Consumer Credit Act 1995. Under current law, the Financial Services Ombudsman may not investigate a matter which occurred more than six years before the complaint is made. This is in line with the limitation period for most civil claims in the courts, including contract. This limitation period is provided for under section 57BX of the Central Bank Act of 1942, as amended by section 16 of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004. The relevant provision states:

"(3) A consumer is not entitled to make a complaint if the conduct complained of—

(a ) is or has been the subject of legal proceedings before a court or tribunal, or

(b ) occurred more than 6 years before the complaint is made, or

(c ) relates to a matter that is within the jurisdiction of the Pensions Ombudsman, or

(d ) is of a class prescribed by Council."

I would also point out that the statutory functions of the Financial Services Ombudsman Council include the keeping under review of the efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the Ombudsman and advising "the Minister for Finance, either at the Minister's request or at its own initiative, on any matter relevant to the Ombudsman's operation". It would seem, therefore, open to the Council to make any relevant recommendations concerning the current limitation period that it considers appropriate to the Minister for Finance, who will be best placed to inform the Deputy whether or not such matters have so come to his attention. I am aware that a different approach has been taken to this issue in the United Kingdom. While consumers in that jurisdiction must bring complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service within six months of the final response letter from the business concerned, no limitation period applies to the matters on which the complaints are based. The Law Reform Commission has made recommendations in relation to enhancing the coherence of the broader limitation of actions regime in its Report on the Limitation of Actions of December 2011 and in relation to the limitation period applicable to contract law which could have a bearing on the matters of concern to the Deputy. I will be happy to take account of these recommendations and of the Deputy's concerns in any proposals for legislation that I may develop on periods of limitation in the future, while also taking account of any relevant developments in policy that may take place between the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman, its Council, and the Minister for Finance.

Departmental Staff Rehiring

Questions (239)

Joan Collins

Question:

239. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of public sector workers who have retired in the past three years within his Department or any office or body under his aegis who have been reinstated; if he will provide details on the pay rates they are receiving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10998/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

With one exception, I am not aware of any other staff member who retired from my Department or any agency under its auspices in the last three years (from 28 February 2010 to 27 February 2013) who has been reinstated. One staff member, who was a Governor in the Prison Service, has been re-employed in the Prison Service as Campus Governor on a fixed-term contract to meet pressing operational and transformation requirements. In line with pension abatement rules, the individual is not receiving their pension for the duration of the contract. The annual cost of this contract which commenced in March 2012 is €120,542.

Defence Forces Personnel

Questions (240)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

240. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence if he will address the concerns regarding the Army Medical Corps raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10452/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I am making inquiries about the matter raised by the Deputy. As soon as these enquiries have been completed, I will write to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (241)

Seán Fleming

Question:

241. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence the number of agency and contract staff currently employed under the aegis of his Department; the mechanism in place for monitoring and managing the associated costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10980/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Some 5.5 nursing positions at various military installations are filled by agency staff. The Department employs a total of eight civilian employees under fixed-term contracts to work in military installations. In addition, a personal assistant to the Minister and two civilian drivers for the Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, are employed on temporary contracts. These appointments are coterminous with the terms of office of the Minister in the case of the personal assistant, or the Minister of State in the case of the civilian drivers. Agency or contract staff are only utilised as required and when there are compelling reasons to engage such staff on an urgent or temporary basis.

Departmental Staff Rehiring

Questions (242)

Joan Collins

Question:

242. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Defence the number of public sector workers who have retired in the past three years within his Department or any office or body under his aegis who have been reinstated; if he will provide details on the pay rates they are receiving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10992/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

In the last three years, one former public sector worker was reinstated on a part-time temporary basis on an annual salary of €37,072 in their former position following their retirement. The contract of the person in question has now expired.