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Independence of the Ombudsman

It is vital to the credibility and success of the scheme that the OBS be and is perceived to be independent of the banking industry over which it has jurisdiction. There must no undue influence in this process by banks, consumers or any other party. The structure of the scheme ensures that the OBS alone decides whether a bank has acted fairly or unreasonably when investigating a complaint.

The Ombudsman is independent and impartial. His independence and impartiality has been enhanced by a number of factors. These include the following:

  1. The Ombudsman enjoys security of tenure. This means that the Ombudsman cannot be dismissed except in certain exceptional instances such as incompetence, gross misconduct, inability to effectively carry out his or her duties, or senility;
  2. The Ombudsman is specifically not liable for dismissal on the grounds of handing down recommendations or rulings that are unpopular with the banks or consumer groupings;
  3. The Ombudsman is appointed by an independent board of directors. He is not appointed by the banks.
3.1.The independent board of directors has a majority of independent, non-executive directors, unrelated or unconnected with banking
3.2.The purpose of the independent board is to:
  • Ensure and protect the independence of the Ombudsman by acting as a buffer protecting the Ombudsman against improper pressure brought to bear by the financiers of the scheme;
  • Ensure that the scheme is adequately resourced. The scheme must have sufficient human, financial and operational resources, funded by the participants in the scheme, to enable the Ombud to function efficiently and timeously;
  • Appoint and renew the appointment of the Ombudsman;
  • Receive and approve the Ombudsman's Annual Report;
  • Approve changes to the scheme's Terms of Reference;
  • Liaise closely with the Ombudsman on a regular basis.
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