The FCA has published near-final rules on extending access to the Financial Ombudsman Service to more small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as to larger charities and trusts and a new category of personal guarantors.
The rules expand the scope of those persons who are considered to be "eligible complainants" under the DISP rules to not only cover consumers, micro-enterprises and CBTL consumers, but to also include:
- charities that have an annual income of less than £6.5 million (currently £1 million) at the time the complaint is referred to the relevant firm;
- trustees of trusts that have a net asset value of less than £5 million (currently £1 million) at the time the complaint is referred to the relevant firm;
- small businesses (defined as enterprises which are not micro-enterprises and have an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million (or its equivalent in any other currency) and who either employ fewer than 50 persons or have a balance sheet total of less than £5 million (or its equivalent in any other currency); and
- guarantors (being a person who is not a consumer and has given a guarantee or security in respect of an obligation or liability of a person which was a micro-enterprise or small business as at the date that the guarantee or security was given) in so far as they have provided a guarantee or security in relation to a specific product.
The FCA intends to finalise the near-final rules by the end of 2018, with a view to these coming into force on 1 April 2019. Firms will need to consider the new rules once they are published and ensure that they are ready to comply with these by the effective date.