The office of the Financial Ombudsman began today to process complaints from borrowers against financial institutions. Complaints can be submitted against financial institutions such as banks, investment firms and insurance companies.

Claims can be for up to €170,000 but the Ombudsman only has powers to award damages up to €50,000. In order to file a complaint, a borrower must have pursued the complaint directly with the relevant financial institution within 15 months from the date the issue arose and with the institution allowed three months to respond. Should the financial institution not respond within the specified time, the customer can then file a complaint with the Financial Ombudsman within four months. The Ombudsman's ruling will not be enforceable unless both parties state its acceptance in writing. The Ombudsman's decision is not legally binding but will carry weight in Court.

The Ombudsman started receiving complaints during November 2014 and has received so far 30 complaints. Five of them have been mediated successfully, fifteen are still in progress, one has been rejected, three have been withdrawn and six are under consideration.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.