Minister Noonan publishes the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017 to improve consumer protection

10.05.17

Minister Noonan publishes the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017 to improve consumer protection

The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan T.D. has today published the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017, Explanatory Memorandum and the Regulatory Impact Assessment following Government approval yesterday.

The General Scheme of the legislation was discussed at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach on 27 October 2016 and their report has recently been finalised.

This Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017 is a priority piece of legislation for the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan T.D. who stated earlier today that:

“This legislation amalgamates the offices of the Financial Services Ombudsman and Pensions Ombudsman. It is a comprehensive review of their operations and will provide consumers with a one-stop shop for enquiries and potential remedies to their complaints on pensions and financial products.”

“This legislation features prominently on the legislative programme set out by the Government and managed by the Office of the Government Chief Whip and is therefore expected to undergo further stages during this Dáil terms. The Government will of course work in collaboration with the relevant committee.”

Speaking this morning, Minister of State with responsibility for Financial Services Eoghan Murphy T.D. said:

“This comprehensive legislation will consolidate and update the legislation, including the extension of the time limits for complaints. This means that consumers will have more time to bring their complaints to the Ombudsman. It also has the effect of ensuring that more consumers can be helped even where their underlying issue has come to light only after a longer period of time.”

ENDS

Wednesday 10th May 2017

For Further information:

David Byrne Press Officer pressoffice@finance.gov.ie  +353 86 026 7978

Notes for editors:

Background to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017
The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all regulated financial service providers. The Ombudsman is assisted by a Deputy Financial Services Ombudsman.

The statutory role of Pensions Ombudsman is to investigate complaints of financial loss due to maladministration and disputes of fact or law in relation to occupational pension schemes, trust retirement annuity contracts and personal retirement savings accounts.  The Pensions Ombudsman performs these functions independently and acts as an impartial adjudicator. The Pensions Ombudsman is funded by the Exchequer.

In April 2013, the Government agreed to accept the recommendations of a Critical Review under the Public Service Reform Plan to amalgamate the offices of the Financial Services Ombudsman and the Pensions Ombudsman (Available at https://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/pdf/Report-of-the-Critical-Review-...). This recommendation was also in line with Government policy to reduce the number of bodies/agencies. The report indicated that the functions of the two organisations are sufficiently similar to provide opportunities for improvements in the quality of services to make such an amalgamation desirable over the longer term. The report also recognised that as the pension system becomes increasingly defined contribution based, the focus of consumer protection and disputes will continue to move to the management of investment products.

The intention to amalgamate both bodies was announced by the then Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D. in April 2013.

In addition to the amalgamation of both offices, the opportunity was taken to review the existing legislation and to consolidate and update the legislation where necessary.

The main provisions of the Bill

A synopsis of the main provisions of the Bill can be found in the explanatory memorandum that accompanies the Bill which is available below: