Clients urged to register unresolved banking complaints

Accountants urged to reach out to current and former clients who may have outstanding banking disputes dating back to 2001


The Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) is calling on professional services businesses to see if they can help clients access support using its quick online tool.

A free and independent dispute resolution service launched early last year, the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) is appealing to professional services firms to see if their current and previous clients’ long-standing bank disputes can be tackled.

It is estimated that nearly 600,000 UK SMEs could qualify for the BBRS's independent, free-of-charge specialist dispute resolution services. Accountants, solicitors, financial advisers and other professional services firms are likely to have had dealings with these SMEs including those which have since closed down, merged or been sold.

The BBRS is urging the sector to reach out to those current and former clients who may have outstanding banking disputes dating back to 2001. Current and previous business owners, directors and others can see if they may be eligible to apply for BBRS support.

Glenn Collins, head of policy, technical and strategic engagement at ACCA UK, says: ‘As a supporter of the BBRS and its work, we back wholeheartedly their call for SMEs to ensure they have a voice when it comes to unresolved banking disputes.  We urge our members to reach out to their clients to see if they can receive support.

'The BBRS is a trusted resource that can help resolve disputes at minimal cost to SMEs. Such support is important for the wellbeing of SMEs’ owners, as such disputes can be stressful. Importantly, the BBRS will be able to consider disputes in the wake of the pandemic, and our hope is that the BBRS alongside the seven participating banks will collaborate to shape a better resolution system for the future.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully says: ‘It has been a testing year for so many of Britain’s small businesses, and we have undertaken unprecedented measures to keep alive the creativity, dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit which they bring to every sector of the economy and every community across the country.

‘Services like the BBRS will play a vital role in ensuring small business owners can access expert advice and have their voices heard, not only as we build back better from this pandemic but also well into the future.’

The process is overseen by chief adjudicator Alexandra Marks CBE, a deputy high court judge, and resolves disputes based on what is fair and reasonable for each case. Businesses going through the service will be assigned a highly skilled dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support. The BBRS is able to make both financial and non-financial awards when a complaint is upheld. 

Marks says: ‘We want to encourage professional services firms and advisers to consider whether their current and previous clients could benefit from the BBRS’s service. If they know of clients with unresolved banking disputes, they can steer them towards us to seek our help to achieve a fair resolution.

'We urge SMEs to see if they qualify for our help and, if so, to register as soon as possible. If unsure, businesses can check online or contact us to find out more.’  

The BBRS’s Historical Scheme covers banking complaints first registered in the period from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019. Businesses may qualify for support if they had turnover between £1m and £6.5m per annum at the time of their complaint, and their case has not already been settled, been subject to an independent review, or gone to court.

Businesses with turnover between £6.5m and £10m with unresolved banking complaints since April 2019 can apply to the BBRS’s Contemporary Scheme for support.

SMEs are encouraged to use a new online tool to see if the BBRS can help them, particularly those with older unresolved complaints, as the deadline for historical complaint applications is 14 February 2023. They can check and register online.