Take It To The Bank

Boost for SMEs as free and independent service for unresolved bank complaints goes live

Small businesses across the UK are now able to use a new, free and independent service to help them resolve disputes with their banks, in a boost for companies struggling in the current crisis.

The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) will use alternative dispute resolution techniques to settle unresolved complaints from larger SMEs with seven participating banks, who make up the majority of the business banking market. The banks are Barclays, Danske Bank, HSBC UK, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest Group, Santander UK, and Virgin Money and it is hoped that more banks will join in future.

The service has been two years in the making and has been set up on a voluntary basis with small business groups and banks working together. The setting up of the BBRS comes after a sustained campaign by SMEs, who have argued for a wider means of resolving disputes.

The BBRS will look at two types of unresolved complaint:

The contemporary scheme covers cases for the period from 1 April 2019 onwards: it is for businesses with a turnover up to £10m per annum; and total assets up to £7.5m; and which are not eligible to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The historical scheme covers cases for the period from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019: it is for businesses with a turnover up to £6.5m per annum; and total assets up to £5m; and which were not eligible to take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service and have not had access to an independent review.

Crucially, the BBRS offers an alternative to litigation, removing the cost and stress of going to court. Its decision-making is led by Alexandra Marks CBE, Chief Adjudicator and a Deputy High Court Judge, who will be able to decide cases on the basis of what is fair and reasonable in the particular circumstances of each case.

BBRS’ Independent Chair, Lewis Shand Smith, commented: “I am delighted the service is now fully operational. The BBRS will enhance SME and banking relationships by giving larger SMEs a free and easy to use dispute resolution service. By working with us voluntarily to develop this independent service, the participating banks and SME business groups have made an important contribution to supporting economic recovery among small businesses.”

The BBRS are encouraging everyone who may be eligible to sign up. For more information about whether this could be relevant for clients, please visit thebbrs.org

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