Head of Banking & Lender Disputes | Dispute Resolution | Banking & Finance
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The Business Banking Resolution Service ("BBRS") was launched last week and is now accepting complaints after more than two years in the making.
The BBRS is an independent forum to resolve disputes between eligible businesses and participating banks. It is free to access and was borne out of a review launched by UK Finance in spring 2018 into the complaints and Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") landscape for the UK SME Market (the "Walker Review"). The full findings can be found here, but in summary its focus was on SME customers that had made a complaint following the financial crisis of 2008, but might not have had access to an ADR process if they were unhappy with the outcome. It identified three areas where action could be taken to improve arrangements for SMEs.
UK Finance's response, dated 1 December 2018 outlines a series of proposals made by seven UK banks operating in the SME market to help put right the issues outlined in the Walker Review. The ADR service which has become the BBRS is one of these.
Plans were set in motion when an independent steering group (chaired by Lewis Shand-Smith) was set up in early 2019. Since then the steering group has worked with the banking sector and key stakeholder groups (such as the APPG on fair business banking and SME Alliance) to bring about the scheme. A live pilot took place in 2020 and feedback from this was considered before the full launch on 15 February 2021.
The service is designed to provide larger SMEs who are ineligible for other existing dispute resolution services (like the FOS) with an alternative to litigation. It is made up of two schemes:
To be eligible for either scheme:
The business must also meet certain other criteria (including financial criteria such as maximum turnover / balance sheet thresholds). These vary depending on which scheme your complaint falls under. For full details of the criteria and how to raise a complaint, visit the BBRS' website. For more information on the BBRS, dispute resolution or related issues, please get in touch.