Further Complaints Research

The new study consisted of a factual comparison of the complaints and disciplinary systems of the insolvency regulators (including any differences between them) with the Bar Standards Board, the General Medical Council (incl PCTs) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. It also looked at the system put in place by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The research report published in Jan 2009, which can be accessed at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1310791, identified that trends in the comparator organisations are:

- the separation of representative and regulatory functions within the governance of professional bodies (the insolvency profession has also separated these functions);

- the separation of disciplinary and complaints handling functions with arrangements being made to provide alternative dispute resolution (ADR) which is free to the complainants and with financial redress for service complaints; and

- all comparator organisations and the Law Societies, which regulate some insolvency practitioners, have adopted some form of completely independent, external oversight in relation to complaints and in some cases disciplinary proceedings.

The researchers go further in suggesting that there appears to be a clear case for extending the jurisdiction of the FOS to all IPs involved in the provision of debt advice or debt resolution services to personal debtors.

The authors of the report also suggest that, in the prevailing economic climate, the insolvency profession and its regulators may wish to consider whether or not the wider case for an insolvency ombudsman to handle all complaints against IPs should be subject to a full, independent review.

The IPC is currently seeking further information on the RPBs' ADR systems and will be studying the report to decide what recommendations it might make to the RPBs arising from it.

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