The new Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) was launched on 15 February 2021.
The BBRS is a free and independent ADR service, intended to allow eligible UK SMEs to resolve complaints against their banks. Historically, the options for resolution of banking complaints and disputes were via the Financial Ombudsman Service (for eligible smaller claims) or, for more valuable matters, litigation.
The BBRS will deal with complaints falling between those two options, presenting an alternative to costly litigation for higher value claims. Two schemes are involved: a historical scheme for complaints dating back to 2001, and a contemporary scheme for complaints which have arisen since 1 April 2019. Seven major UK banks have signed up so far: Barclays; Danske Bank; HSBC; the Lloyds Banking Group; NatWest Group; Santander UK plc; and Virgin Money.
Businesses accessing the service will be given a "Consumer Champion" whose role is to act as a guide to the BBRS; there is no need for users to have legal representation. Financial awards of up to £600,000 may be made on the contemporary scheme (£350,000 for the historical scheme), with the option for the service to recommend higher awards if appropriate. The issues it will deal with are likely to be broad and potentially complex, ranging from distressed loans through to fraud and cybercrime.
It is hoped that the BBRS will increase confidence for SMEs in dealing with banks and accessing lending. This will be of particular importance in the current climate, given the impact on business of the coronavirus pandemic and the changes wrought by Brexit.
The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) will use alternative dispute resolution techniques to settle unresolved complaints from larger SMEs with seven participating banks, who make up the majority of the business banking market.