Banking in Jersey

13.10.10 Updated on:

Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO)

Complaints about banking, lending, money services, insurance, pensions and some types of investments in Jersey and Guernsey.

The Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman (CIFO) is a joint operation that has a shared office in Jersey with the same board, ombudsman and staff. It covers financial services provided in/from Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.

How is CIFO paid for?
The cost of CIFO is met by the finance industry, through annual levies and case fees.

If you have a complaint against a financial services provider
You should first take up the complaint with the financial services provider concerned. They have up to 3 months to give you a final response. If you are not happy with the financial services provider’s reply or have not received one after 3 months, you can pass on the complaint to CIFO.

Who is able to complain to CIFO?
CIFO is able to look at complaints from individuals and small businesses whether or not they are in the Channel Islands.

Which financial services providers can you complain about?
Financial services providers involved in banking, lending, money services, insurance, pensions and some investments.

If the financial services were provided from outside the Channel Islands then you should contact the Ombudsman for that jurisdiction e.g. Financial Services Ombudsman (FOS) UK, Office of the Ombudsman, Dublin, Ireland.

How far back can CIFO go?
The event that gave rise to the complaint must have happened on or after 1 January 2010 if the financial services were provided from Jersey or 2 July 2013 if the financial services were provided from Guernsey, Alderney or Sark.

Are there other time limits?
You should bring your complaint to CIFO within 6 months of your financial service provider’s final response to your complaint.  CIFO may not be able to help if what you are complaining about happened more than 6 years ago and your complaint is more than 2 years after you realise or could have realised there is a problem.

Handling enquiries
CIFO handles enquiries from complainants and financial services providers to help them resolve issues between themselves and to try and resolve cases based on misunderstandings. Experience elsewhere shows that only approximately one in eight enquiries turn into a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Handling complaints

CIFO will first check that it is able to look at your complaint, then try to resolve the case by mediation. If mediation does not work, CIFO will investigate the case and issue a decision.  To refer your complaint to CIFO, fill out a complaint form online or send one by post or email or you can contact the office for assistance.

What will be the effect of an ombudsman’s decision?
If the complainant accepts the decision, it will become legally binding on both parties. The ombudsman can award compensation, payable by the financial services provider, up to a maximum limit of £150,000.

There are boundaries with other financial ombudsmen and it all depends on where the service was provided:

  • in/from the Channel Islands = Channel Islands Financial Ombudsman
  • in/from the United Kingdom = Financial Ombudsman Service (1)
  • in/from Ireland = Irish Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau (2)
  • in/from the Isle of Man = Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (3)

In the UK

Problems arising in the UK can be directed to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Tel: +448450801800

Jersey Financial Services Commission

The Financial Services Commission in Jersey looks after and regulates the Island’s finance industry. It’s a self-financing corporate body which gets income from registration and other fees for licences under laws relating to business and finance.

Assistance for the visually impaired

Most banks now offer large print statements but Braille statements, cheque book templates and other services are available.

Bounced cheques

Giving someone a bounced cheque is a form of theft if the person giving it, the issuer knows that the money is not available in their bank account and the person who is given the cheque may think about reporting the matter to the police. However, if the payee just wants to get the money back as fast as possible, they can apply for an Ordre Provisoire from the Bailiff (if the cheque is worth £10,000 or more) or from the Petty Debts Court Magistrate (if worth less than £30,000).

Full details of this process can be found here.

Stopped cheques

There are some cases when it is acceptable to stop a cheque that you have given, including situations where goods have not been supplied as agreed before a cheque that has been paid is due to be cleared or where a service you have asked for has not been supplied, but a cheque already paid.

If a service or goods have been partly given, the buyer of the service or goods should not cancel the cheque, but honour it and then sue in the court for the cost of the item(s) or services not supplied. If the cheque is stopped and the supplier of the goods or services sues the buyer, then it may be possible for the buyer to persuade the Court to allow him to enter what is called a ‘pro tanto’ defence and counter claim, allowing them to only pay a part of the amount of the cheque fitting to the service or goods supplied.

Post-dated cheques

Nobody has to take a post-dated cheque as, by law, a post-dated cheque does not count as payment of a debt, however writing a post-dated cheque is not banned under banking terms.

If a bank puts through a post-dated cheque before the date on it and then makes its customer overdrawn, the charges can be disputed.

By law, banks should always refund charges to their clients for failing to carry out their customer’s instructions. A claim by a bank that post-dated cheques are not allowed or that the bank has no responsibility for cheques being cleared early, should be challenged.

Cheques as evidence of payment

The Cheques (Jersey) Law, 1957 Article 3 states that ‘an unendorsed cheque which appears to have been paid by the banker on whom it is drawn is evidence of the receipt by the payee of the sum payable by the cheque’. This means that the money from a cheque coming out of a bank account is evidence of receipt of payment. Some businesses will refuse to give a receipt for a cheque on the grounds that there is no need to do so under the Cheques (Jersey) Law.

Overpayments to a bank account

If money is put into your account by mistake, the bank is usually entitled to take it back within a reasonable time. If you do not realise that the mistake has been made and have used the money in a way you would normally, the bank may not be able to claim the money back. This can be a difficult area of the law however, and you need to get advice from a solicitor about your case.

If the bank does have the right to recover the money, you could negotiate for small repayments over a period of time. You should not pay any interest. If you cannot agree the matter with your bank, you can refer your complaint to CIFO. In practice, banks normally agree to both staged payments and no interest.

Access to basic bank account

The following banks offer a basic bank account with no overdraft facility or cheque book.

Barclays Bank – Barclays Cash Card Account
HSBC – Basic Bank Account also HSBC Passport Account designed for anyone new to the UK
Lloyds Bank International – Cash Account

Almost everybody should be able to open a basic bank account. The bank may carry out a credit check to see if you have any outstanding judgements or have been made bankrupt. Anyone who has a record of fraud will be turned down.

Information on basic bank accounts from the Money Advice Service is available here.

Difficulties in opening a bank account due to lack of identification e.g.: passport or driving licence

Banks are required by the Jersey Financial Services Commission to operate very strict Know Your Customer account opening procedures. These are linked to International agreements. Situations do arise from time to time where a local person does for very good reasons not possess either a current passport or a driving licence.

If you are in that position and experiencing difficulty in opening an account, then you should insist on speaking to someone from the bank’s Compliance Department.

Banks do have arrangements in place to waive their requirements in special situations of this type. Normally a senior member of management can open the account using other means of identification, e.g. Social Security details or utility bill.

If all else fails, telephone the Financial Services Commission on 822040 for assistance in resolving the problem.

Community Savings Limited

Community Savings Limited helps Jersey residents who are financially or socially disadvantaged. It operates in a similar way to a credit union.  Anyone living in Jersey can join the Jersey common interest group. Members can deposit money either weekly or monthly. Members can make withdrawals from their accounts at the offices or by using a pre-paid debit card facility that is available to members.