Lawyer Monthly - February 2022

Throughout my career I have been interested in the ‘David vs Goliath’ dynamic in the search for justice. 19 FEB 2022 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM DELIVERING JUSTICE FOR SMEs approach. Each business using the BBRS will be assigned a Customer Champion, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support throughout the business’ journey through the BBRS process. We use a variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) techniques to settle unresolved complaints, including mediation and conciliation as well as full adjudication if necessary. We make decisions based on what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances and seek to inspire confidence through the consistency of our approach. In assessing this, the BBRS will consider all available evidence, taking into account relevant law and regulations; regulators’ rules, guidance and standards; codes of practice; and (where appropriate) what the BBRS considers having been good industry practice at the relevant time. Our scheme rules make clear that we are not looking for pleadings, so it is worth noting that lawyers need not provide these for their clients. Our jurisdiction is much broader than the courts; this is key, as many of the issues we have seen are not complaints about the banks doing something unlawful, but have been about banks treating customers poorly from the perspective of what would have been fair and reasonable. There are a number of benefits of using ADR. Crucially, ADR focuses on reaching an outcome which both parties are comfortable with – making the BBRS not only a mechanism for dispute resolution, but also for rebuilding trust between banks and businesses. Evidence shows that mediation often offers a more satisfactory outcome because the parties are involved in shaping it and can be creative about the solution to their dispute. As Chief Adjudicator, what is your role in the organisation? As Chief Adjudicator I have overall responsibility for dispute resolution, investigation and adjudication within the BBRS. I oversee the review of complaints and appeals handled by the BBRS. Working with the Customer Champions and Case Assessors, and within the Scheme Rules, I determine eligibility and the appropriate approach for handling complaints. In addition, I oversee decision-making and the appeals process. As someone with an extensive background in pro bono work and charitable organisations, what attracted you to the BBRS? Throughout my career I have been interested in the ‘David vs Goliath’ dynamic in the search for justice. It was that, coupled with my passion for social justice, that drew me to the BBRS. I am also an accredited mediator and believe that the ADR techniques used by the BBRS offer great benefits. I very much hope that we can demonstrate these benefits over time and encourage the wider use of ADR to resolve this kind of dispute. What will the BBRS be focusing on in 2022? The focus of the BBRS for the foreseeable future will be on delivering fair and reasonable outcomes for eligible SMEs. One of the main challenges we face is getting the word out to SMEs, particularly those eligible for our historical scheme, which has a deadline of 14 February 2023 for registrations. Although it is clear the banks have learnt many lessons from the financial crisis in 2008-09, I suspect we will see a rise in cases for our contemporary scheme in the future as the full impact of COVID-19 on our economy, and particularly SMEs, emerges.

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