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
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
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 000-00.
If a complainant seeks the determination, the complainant has agreed to
be bound by it; subject to the right to a review.
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
What happens if I do accept the findings of the
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 misunderstandings.
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 bank.
Can businesses use the Ombudsman's service as
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
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
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
Does the Ombudsman investigate all complaints
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.