As the Deputy will be aware the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is an independent statutory office which operates under its own legislative framework and presents customers with a statutory means of resolving their complaint against a regulated financial services provider in a fair and independent manner.
I am aware that the Deputy was recently in correspondence with the Ombudsman in relation to this matter. As outlined by the Ombudsman in his reply, before a formal investigation of a complaint can commence, this FSPO must assess whether the complaint has been made within the time limits set out in Section 51 the 2017 Act.
Section 51 of the 2017 Act provides that the complaint must be made, within whichever of the following periods is last to expire;
(i) 6 years from the date of the conduct giving rise to the complaint;
(ii) 3 years from the earlier of the date on which the Complainant became aware or ought reasonably to have become aware, of the conduct giving rise to the complaint;
(iii) Such longer periods as the Ombudsman may allow where it appears to him that there are reasonable grounds for requiring a longer period and that it would be just an equitable, in all of the circumstances to extend the period.
In order for the Ombudsman to exercise his discretion under Section 51(2)(a)(iii) there must be reasonable grounds in the particular complaint, for him to permit a longer period to enable the complaint to be made, and it must be just and equitable in all of the circumstances for him to do so.
When an assessment is conducted, it is open to a provider to express a view that the complaint was made within the time-periods in s51 of the 2017 Act. Some providers have taken this approach in relation to all tracker mortgage interest rate complaints. This is then taken into account in making a determination on the application of the time limits.