The previous Regulatory Roundup (issue 65) drew attention to changes to the ‘complaints rules’ in DISP which had the effect of classifying certain professional clients as eligible complainants and hence affording them the same complaints handling requirements – including the right to refer to the FOS – as was previously enjoyed by retail clients.

Further changes to DISP will come into being following the publication of Policy Statement PS15/19 “Improving complaints handling, feedback on CP14/30 and final rules”.

Currently DISP 1.5 permits firms in receipt of complaints from eligible complainants to disapply some of the ‘complaints rules’ e.g. the complaints reporting rules (DISP 1.10) if the complaint is resolved by close of the next business day following its receipt. From 30 June 2016 the period will be extended to close of business on the third business day following the day on which it was received.

On the face of it, this would seem to ease the burden for firms e.g. this could reduce the number of complaints being carried over to the more formal eight week period. However there are a couple of downsides.

Firstly any complaints falling within DISP 1.5 will now have to be included when reporting complaints to the FCA and will be subject to the complaints record rule.

Secondly, any firm resolving a complaint under the revised DISP 1.5 must send the complainant a ‘summary resolution communication’ – see (new) DISP 1.5.4 and associated guidance for what must be included in such a communication.

On the matter of complaints reporting, the returns are being amended to provide greater transparency; there will be different returns to be completed depending upon whether a firm has received less than 500 complaints or received 500 or more complaints in the reporting period.

DISP 1.3 (‘complaints handling rules’) will impose requirements upon firms operating a telephone line for the purpose of enabling eligible complainants to submit a complaint to ensure that such complainants will not pay more than the basic rate i.e. no premium rate numbers will be permitted.

Note that GEN will have a new chapter added on similar lines concerning charging consumers for telephone calls other than for complaints (although it will not apply in respect of contracts relating to the MiFID business of a firm).

There is no one date when the revisions come into force – for some it is 1 or 26 October this year whilst for others, including the enhanced complaints reporting requirements, it is 30 June 2016 – so impacted firms should take the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the changes set out in Appendix 1 of PS15/19 in order that their processes remain compliant. In particular such firms should also review the examples of the new complaints returns, and guidance, to ensure that their systems can provide the enhanced granularity demanded by them.

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