Why must my complaint be put in writing?
We need to get certainty of each person's complaint so that there are no misunderstandings between the complainant and
ourselves or between the bank and the complainant. We also need to show the bank that we have your permission to see
private details of your bank accounts.
How long does it take to investigate my complaint?
Most complaints are resolved within 2 months, however the process can take up to 4 months if a full investigation
is done. We will try to finalise the complaint as soon as possible, but certain factors such as the complexity of the
complaint may delay the process beyond our target of 4 months. We rely on written communication and try to use the
quickest way of sending and receiving letters, but often we must wait for the postal system. We encourage both the
banks and the complainants to respond to our letters as soon as possible.
How can I assist the Ombudsman with his work?
As a complainant, we request you to co-operate with your bank if it contacts you in order to try and resolve your
complaint. We also request that you give us as much information as possible so that we can investigate the complaint
properly. We also ask you to respond promptly to any queries raised by us to you.
With what types of complaints can the Ombudsman assist?
We can accept any complaints about a bank's products or service when the bank has not acted properly in accordance
with either the law or the Code of Banking Practice and you have suffered a loss or distress and inconvenience.
Examples include maladministration, transaction errors, negligence, breach of contract and fraud.
What types of complaints do not fall within the Ombudsman's jurisdiction?
We cannot assist complainants who refer matters to us where their bank has properly exercised its commercial
judgement, such as declining loans or increasing interest rates. We are not a court of law and cannot hear evidence
under oath. We therefore will not investigate matters where there are major disputes of fact that would be more suited
to being resolved in a court.
What time limits are there to bringing a matter to the Ombudsman?
We generally only accept complaints regarding acts or omissions of the bank that occurred no more than three years
before the complaint was referred to the Ombudsman.
Who can complain to the Ombudsman?
Only bank customers who are individuals or small businesses, trusts or associations who have a turnover of R5 million
or less may use our services.
What kind of findings can the Ombudsman make?
What are the requirements for a determination?
The Ombudsman can make an assessment, which is a suggestion as to how the matter is to be settled without undertaking
an investigation. Should the matter not be settled a written recommendation explaining the reasons for the
recommendation may be compiled. Should both parties not accept the recommendation, the Ombudsman may make a binding
determination, should certain requirements be met.
- All the material facts are agreed or the facts have been established on a balance of probabilities.
- The total amount involved in the dispute exceeds R10 000.
- If a complainant seeks the determination, the complainant has agreed to be bound by it; subject to the right to
- The Ombudsman is satisfied that valid the party seeking the determination has advanced grounds.
What can I do if I do not accept the findings of the Ombudsman?
A recommendation or determination made by the Ombudsman is not binding on the complainant. A complainant is free
to exercise his or her right to seek justice elsewhere, for example in the small claims court, consumer court or the
civil courts. The complainant may, however, request of the Ombudsman to issue a determination should he or she not
accept a recommendation, provided that the requirements as set out above be complied with. The complainant has the
right to apply for a review to a panel of retired judges selected by the Board against an adverse determination,
provided certain conditions are met.
What happens if I do accept the findings of the Ombudsman?
Once a complainant accepts any form of compensation it is in full and final settlement of the claim and no further
claim on the same issue may be instituted again.
How can I enforce a recommendation or determination?
What are the conditions for a review?
Only a review or a determination may be made an order of court.
- The panel shall only agree to review a determination if the panel is of the opinion that there is a reasonable
prospect that the panel could come to a different finding.
- If the panel agrees to review a determination, the costs of the review, as determined by the Board from time to
time, shall be borne by the parties as decided by the review panel.
- No party to the proceedings of a review shall produce new evidence.
- No party shall have the right to appear in person or be represented before the review panel.
- The complainant will be bound by the review panel's finding and must give such an undertaking before the leave
to review shall be considered.
- The Ombudsman may assist the complainant if a bank brings a review.
Do I have to come to a hearing?
No. The investigation department conducts its enquiries into the complaint by way of writing and asking questions
of each party to the complaint and by gathering information in this way to make a finding. Some complaints are more
complex and you may be requested to attend a voluntary mediation or to assist the investigator in understanding all
the facts of your complaint.
Can someone else complain on my behalf?
You may receive assistance in lodging your complaint, however, we do not allow professional bodies to claim on your
behalf if they are receiving a fee for doing so. We do, however, prefer to deal directly with people to avoid
Do I need a lawyer?
No. We in fact discourage the use of lawyers and other bodies who charge for their services. Most of the investigators
are qualified lawyers. We act on a strictly impartial basis so there is no need for a lawyer. Should you, however,
wish to use one, you are free to do so on the understanding that you will be unlikely to recover any fees from the
Can businesses use the Ombudsman's service as well?
Our services are available to individuals as well as small businesses whose annual turnover is less than R10 million.
A small business may be a company, close corporation, a partnership or a trust.
I'd like to complete the Application for Assistance form but English is not my first language and I don't
speak it very well. Can you help me at all?
Our staff members are happy to assist any complainant who is unable to speak or write in English by translating their
complaint into English or Afrikaans. Written communication from the Ombudsman will, however, be only in English.
Does the Ombudsman punish banks or fine them?
Neither. The Ombudsman impartially evaluates the complaint and makes an assessment, recommendation or determination to
the bank based on the merits of the complaint. The amount contained in the assessment, recommendation or determination
is payable to the complainant and is not a fine.
Who pays for your service? / Is there a charge?
The Scheme's budget is approved by the board of directors and the funds are provided by the member banks. The
complainant does not have to pay any fee or charge, even if we make a finding in favour of the bank.
How independent is the Ombudsman in making decisions?
The Ombudsman operates independently of the banks and is not influenced by them. A Board that is headed by a former
Judge and made up mostly of non-banking representatives appoints the Ombudsman. The staff members at the Scheme follow
a very strict code of ethics to ensure that neither the banks nor the complainants influence them in any way. The
Ombudsman takes strong exception to any person who tries to influence any decision made by the Scheme.
What happens if the bank does not accept the Ombudsman's findings?
Should the bank not accept a recommendation that has been accepted by the complainant, and the complaint fulfils the
requirements as set out above for a determination, the Ombudsman may issue a determination on the complaint. The bank
has the right to apply for a review to a panel of retired judges selected by the Board against an adverse
determination, should certain conditions be met. The bank is bound by the outcome of a review.
Does the Ombudsman investigate all complaints personally?
It would be impossible for him to do so. The Ombudsman employs a professional help desk and adjudication departments
to handle all the investigative work. The determinations and recommendation reports that are delivered by the
Ombudsman are, however, approved by the Ombudsman, assisted by a determination and recommendation committee.