The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), an independent and free service established to resolve disputes between SMEs and their bank, has now been in operation for two years. It gives eligible SMEs the opportunity to have their banking complaint heard, without the need for litigation or external legal support, with a view to delivering fair, reasonable and independent outcomes.
The BBRS was established in response to the commitments made by the banking and finance industry following the Simon Walker Review, which identified the need for an independent service to resolve historic and current business banking complaints for eligible SMEs that have not previously had access to independent review.
Multiple routes to dispute resolution
Since launch, the BBRS has tackled a range of complex banking complaints for SMEs through its Historic Scheme, which is for banking complaints registered from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019, and its Contemporary Scheme, which covers cases for the period from 1 April 2019 onwards.
Unlike other redress schemes, the BBRS can provide multiple routes to resolution, from adjudication to conciliated, mediated and direct settlements, resulting in better outcomes for all parties involved. Successful cases can benefit from both financial and non-financial redress.
£1M awarded to SME customers
To date, substantially more than £1M of financial awards have been made to SMEs as a result of BBRS intervention, across the various dispute resolution routes. Furthermore, where cases evolve to direct settlement between the SME and bank following BBRS intervention, the BRRS is not always party to the redress sum that is agreed, and so this figure is likely to be significantly higher.
In addition to monetary awards, a significant number of non-financial awards have been issued following BBRS intervention, including rearranging lending terms and conditions, discharges from personal guarantees, debt recovery rearrangements or even an apology from the bank.
Successful resolutions – by numbers
As of 31 December 2022, the BBRS has reached 56 settlements of which 21 were the result of adjudications and 35 were settled directly between the parties following BBRS involvement. For the first time the BBRS can reveal that 26 of these cases are from the Historical Scheme (14 adjudications and 12 conciliated, mediated and direct settlements), 21 are from the Contemporary Scheme (7 adjudications and 14 direct settlements) and an additional 3 settlements were dual scheme, where banking complaints relate to matters that happened before and after 1 April 2019. A further 6 cases were settled before a date of complaint was established.
Broader benefits of the BBRS
In addition to redress, the BBRS has been found to provide significant broader benefits. The recent, independent post-implementation review of the BBRS found these to include re-building SMEs’ confidence in the fairness of the banking sector, the banks themselves improving their own complaints procedures and the BBRS acting to encourage the banks to resolve cases internally.
Mark Grimshaw, CEO of the BBRS, says:
“Many of the SMEs we have helped have walked away with life changing sums of money, or non-financial awards that have had a transformational impact. SMEs eligible for our Scheme benefit from our capability to tackle complex business banking complaints and provide multiple routes to resolution, which results in better outcomes for all parties involved.
“As well as financial awards, we are able to deliver significant non-monetary redress, such as changing loan exit fee penalties, changing customer loan terms and discharging people from personal guarantees. We urge all SMEs who think they have a business banking complaint to visit our website to check whether they are eligible and to see if we can help.”