REPORT. on the Polish Banking Ombudsman activities. in 2011

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1 REPORT on the Polish Banking Ombudsman activities in 2011 Warsaw, January 2012

2 A. General information The Polish Banking Ombudsman Scheme (PBO) at the Polish Bank Association was established on March 1, In March 2010 Mrs. Katarzyna Marczyńska was reappointed under the resolution of the Management Board of the Polish Bank Association to third term as the Banking Ombudsman. The PBO scheme gathers all member banks of the PBA and those cooperative banks, which are not associated with the Polish Bank Association, but decided to cooperate with the PBO. The PBO closely collaborates with the Department of Consumer Protection and Financial Markets Development in the Polish Bank Association. The PBO activities are financed mostly with funds of the PBA member banks. B. PBO activities in facts and figures Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011, 1066 claims were submitted to the PBO. Until December 31, 2011 the PBO concluded disputes with awards as specified below: in favour of consumer 151, settlement by consent 40 in favour of bank 422, dismissal or return of a claim

3 The subject matter of claims submitted to the PBO referred to: bank accounts and deposits 228, bank credits 677, payments (including several types of bank cards) 102, securities 1, other issues 58. The average dispute value under the PBO scheme in 2011 was 5.664,12 PLN. The average duration of proceedings concluded with award in the last year was ca. 57 days. C. Information about claims submitted to the PBO The subject matter of the claims submitted to the PBO in 2011 referred mainly to credits (64%), in particular mortgage credits. The most common causes of litigation in this area were: principles determining the collateral value for a transitional period (until registration in the Land Register the bridging period insurance, increased margin), as well as low downpayment insurance, prohibited contractual clauses. Additionally, customers have disputed rules for premature debt repayment settlement by banks. most common source of dispute in this field stems from the fact that the borrower being not familiar with the stipulations of the credit contact (not having it read thoroughly), makes payment on arbitrarly selected dates and in amounts not agreed with the bank, without making the bank aware of his intention to make early repayment. This behavior results in failure on the consumer part to repay the loan in full. There were no claims regarding inaccurate credit settlement by bank after the cancellation of the credit contract by borrower. 3

4 The number of claims submitted by debtor s inheritors continuously increases. They demand debt cancellation and accused banks of granting credits to old and noncreditworthy people. There was a high increase in the number of requests to oblige banks to restructure loans. There was a clear increase in the number of claims regarding complex products such as deposits associated with insurance in It seems that most disputes resulted from lack of knowledge concerning specific products on the part of customers who accused banks of inadequate information about principles of investment and potential risks, as well as of failure to provide information materials. In comparison with last years, the number of claims regarding banking card frauds, as well as fraudulent ATM transactions remains permanently at the same level. One has to emphasize that customers continued to perceive the Polish Bank Association as a supervisory authority for banks and they assume that the PBO authority is much broader than in reality. They often demand the PBO s advice in specific, individual matters, particularly before entering into credit agreements, or present their opinion concerning banks activities over the phone. D. Council of the Banking Ombudsman The Council of the Banking Ombudsman is a body consisting of representatives of governmental authorities and supervisory boards, as well as representatives of consumer organisations, largest commercial banks and the Polish Bank Association. The principal statutory objectives of the Council include exchange of experiences referring to bank services consumer rights protection, in particular: - examination of main reasons of disputes between banks and consumers, - deliberation of practical aspects of legal resolutions concerning bank services consumer protection, 4

5 - analysis of subject matter and statistical structure of disputes submitted to the PBO and awards entered, - consultation on new projects concerning consumer rights protection, undertaken by various institutions. In January 2011 the Council of the PBA appointed members of the Council of the Banking Ombudsman to third term. In the end of 2011 the Council nominated new members - representatives of the Association of Consumer Ombudsmen and Bank BPH SA. At the moment, the Council gathers representatives of the institutions listed below: Consumer Federation; Association of Polish Consumers; National Bank of Poland; Office of the Commissioner for Civil Rights Protection ; Office of Competition and Consumer Protection; Polish Bank Association; National Council of Consumer Ombudsmen; Polish Financial Supervision Authority; Bank Pocztowy SA representative of the Medium bank section of the Polish Bank Association ; PKO Bank Polski SA; Bank Zachodni WBK SA; Bank Pekao SA; BRE Bank SA; ING Bank Śląski SA; Co-operative Bank in Raszyn - representative of the Co-operative and associated bank section of the Polish Bank Association; Bank BPH SA; Association of Consumer Ombudsmen. Meetings of the Council are conducted by Mrs. Katarzyna Marczyńska, Banking Ombudsman. The Secretary of the Council is Mr. Norbert Jeziolowicz, Director of the Retail Banking & Financial Markets Division in the Polish Bank Association. 5

6 In 2011 the Council held three meetings in February, June and December. Each meeting includes exchange of opinions/ experiences concerning different aspects. The main object of discussion in 2011 was new legislation concerning consumer credit and consumers claims according to abusive contract terms. E. Other activities of the Banking Ombudsman In addition to duties and responsibilities within the Polish Bank Association, in 2011 Mrs. Katarzyna Marczyńska was also engaged in the educational activity and participated in several high-level decision-making bodies aimed at best practices and alternative methods of dispute resolution promotion. In close cooperation with the Warsaw Institute of Banking and Banking Law and Information Centre, in 2011 Mrs. Marczyńska carried on her educational activity among banking staff. In 2011 Mrs. Marczyńska took part in the conference organized by the Association of Consumer Ombudsmen in cooperation with the Polish Economic Society and the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycles Research, and she promoted the idea of consumer protection in the field of financial services. She is also engaged in the educational activity among the academic environment, e.g. she gave lectures on banking ethics, aimed at banking best practices promotion to the students of the Warsaw School of Economics and the University of Lodz (Faculty of Economics). Moreover, Mrs. Marczyńska permanently collaborates with the European Consumer Centre and National Council of Consumer Ombudsmen providing professional advice to Customer Ombudsmen and reliable information to customers on existing consumer redress mechanisms connected with banks activities. 6

7 She started cooperation with the Local Chambers of Legal Advisers in Cracow and Kielce, and she gave lectures on position of consumers clients of financial services to the legal advisers. According to the post-graduate studies regarding Negotiation, mediation and alternative methods of dispute resolutions, that Mrs. Marczyńska completed in 2011 at the Warsaw University, she elaborated a thesis concerning perspectives on private ADRs in Poland (analysis based on the Banking Ombudsman Scheme at the PBA), which helps to promote the method of dispute resolution, which was established by the banking sector. Mrs. Katarzyna Marczyńska strongly supports the economic and consumer RELIABLE COMPANY/ WHITE LIST programme, aimed at corporate ethics promotion. Mrs. Marczyńska held a meeting with the Presidium of the Banking Ethics Commission at the PBA, during which she outlined the main causes of disputes and customer feedback concerning violation of the Good Banking Practice Principles by banks. At the request of various bodies operating within the PBA information/ statistics on consumer complaints according to particular subjects have been prepared. In 2011 Mrs. Marczyńska took active participation in works of Committee on Financial Services Quality at the PBA, developing the Recommendation on claims management system in banks. F. International cooperation of the PBO within the FIN-NET network FIN-NET network was launched by the European Commission in February 2001 as a EEA financial dispute resolution network of national out-of-court complaint schemes that are responsible for handling disputes between consumers and financial services providers, i.e. banks, insurance companies, investment firms and others. The 7

8 schemes cooperate to provide consumers with easy access to out-of-court complaint procedures in cross-border cases. If a consumer in one country has a dispute with a financial services provider from another country, FIN-NET members will put the consumer in touch with the relevant out-of-court complaint scheme and provide the necessary information about it. The PBO at the Polish Bank Association is a member of the FIN-NET network from the beginning of In 2011, two plenary meetings of FIN-NET were held. AT the first meeting on March 17, 2011 in Brussels were discussed, among others, results of the consultation on alternative methods of dispute resolution (ADR), which are the initial step to develop the proposed directive in this regard, and results of the consultation on coherent European approach to collective redress mechanism (collective redress). There were also presented in detail results of a study on the use of information on age, disability, gender, religion or belief, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation in financial services, and the recommendation from May 12, 2010 on the application of a harmonized methodology for classifying and reporting consumers complaints and inquiries, prepared by the Commission. Finally, there were presented some of ADR schemes in different organizations, among others, in the Consumer Rights Protection Centre of Latvia and the Union of Mediation Centres in Romania, and experiences and practices on the basis of case studies from Germany and Luxembourg were exchanged. During the second meeting, which was held on October 21, 2011 in Malta, issues as the proposed Directive on the mortgage, the recommendation on access to basic bank account, self-regulatory initiative of bank charges, implementation of common principles for bank account switching and the Payment Services Directive were discussed. Moreover, the draft report of the World Bank on the dispute resolution between consumers and traders was presented. The report consists of two parts: Part 1 a practical guide based on the experiences in Western Europe, Part 2 describes the current arrangements in Central and Eastern Europeand includes 8

9 countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. During this meeting, the ADR mechanisms existing in Hungary and Estonia, collective redress scheme, in particular, collective claims relating to the insurance payments in the UK, as well as issues relating to swaps sold with the mortgage in order to protect consumers from the rate increase were presented. Furthermore, the discussion on the relationship between ADRs and regulators in member countries of FIN-NET were carried out. G. The EC documents concerning alternative methods of consumer dispute resolution On January 18, 2011 the European Commission published the consultation paper concerning alternative methods of consumer dispute resolution, whose purpose was to share opinions and comments regarding possible scenarios of development of such mechanisms. The Banking Ombudsman Scheme was involved in consultation of these documents, whose main aim is to ensure consumers in all member countries the same level of protection and equal access to the entities involved in alternative dispute resolution procedure, in particular, facilitate cross-border electronic commerce by introducing the EU-wide online platform through which online shoppers in another EU country and traders will be able to resolve disputes. On November 29, 2011 the European Commission published the proposed directive and the proposed regulation of the European Parliament and the Council. Under the ADR directive Member States will be obliged to provide an opportunity to solve any disputes between consumers and traders through the alternative dispute resolution procedure. In order to remove barriers in consumer access to ADRs, it is anticipated that the ADR procedure should be free of charge or involve low costs for consumers. The draft directive is also important to guarantee the balanced development of ADRs network across the EU. 9

10 As a pioneer in the creation of ADR procedure on the financial markets of the Central and Eastern Europe, the Polish Bank Association presented a positive opinion on the initiatives supporting the development of ADRs and establishing of ODR mechanism and declared its readiness to share its experiences collected within almost 10 years of the Polish Banking Ombudsman Scheme. Warsaw, February

11 STATISTICS NUMBER OF CLAIMS SUBMITTED TO THE PBO BETWEEN NUMBER OF AWARDS ENTERED BY THE PBO BETWEEN

12 AVERAGE VALUE IN DISPUTES BEFORE THE PBO BETWEEN , , , , , SUBJECT MATTER OF DISPUTES SUBMITTED TO THE PBO IN % 4% 0% 11% 12% bank accounts and deposits bank credits payments (inc. Several types of bank cards) securities 73% thers without subject matter 12

13 SUBJECT MATTER OF DISPUTES SUBMITTED TO THE PBO BETWEEN bank account and deposits 0% 11% 0% 16% bank credits 13% payments (incl. several types of bank cards) securities 60% other without subject matter 13

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