Conciliation proceedings are a form of dispute resolution between a customer of a financial market entity and that entity, i.e. a bank or an insurance company, with the participation of an impartial third party – an employee of the Financial Ombudsman’s Office. They apply to disputes that have not been resolved by the parties as part of the complaint procedure provided by the entity. They are a faster and cheaper alternative to court proceedings. Conciliation proceedings give both the customer and the financial institution a chance to actively participate in resolving their dispute with the participation of an impartial third party, instead of submitting the dispute to an external body – a court or an arbitrator.
Filing an application for conciliation with the Ombudsman does not prevent the initiation of court proceedings. However, if the customer files a claim to the court during the conciliation proceedings, this will be the basis for termination of the proceedings (discontinuation of the proceedings).
After exhausting the complaint procedure in a financial institution, the customer may submit a request for conciliation with the Financial Ombudsman.
PLEASE NOTE! If the position of the financial institution is unclear or the customer is not sure of his/her rights or wants to file a complaint against the actions of the financial institution, we advise to first file a request for intervention, in which the Financial Ombudsman acts on behalf of the customer, provided that the customer’s arguments regarding the claim are justified. This means that the Financial Ombudsman collects arguments in favor of the customer and requests a change in the position of the financial institution. In conciliation proceedings, the Financial Ombudsman does not represent any of the parties.
The request for out-of-court proceedings must meet the relevant requirements. In the course of the proceedings, depending on the situation and content of the application, the Ombudsman will take steps to familiarize the parties with the positions of the opposing party, mainly by exchanging correspondence (in writing or electronically), as well as by telephone.
In some cases, the Financial Ombudsman will suggest that the parties to the dispute attend a meeting.
In the application, the customer may choose whether he/she wants the Ombudsman to help the parties to find an amicable solution to the dispute, or whether he/she is to present his/her own proposal for resolving the dispute. In the latter case, if in the course of communication (in writing, electronically, by phone or at a meeting) the parties fail to work out the terms of an amicable settlement of the dispute, the Financial Ombudsman presents his own proposal to end it.
PLEASE NOTE! It is not possible in every case to present a proposal to resolve the dispute (e.g. in terms of a specific amount of damages, compensation, if it depends on the taking of evidence, e.g. in the form of hearing witnesses).
The Financial Ombudsman draws up a report from the proceedings, which is delivered to the parties. If no settlement has been reached or no other amicable form of settlement has been established, an opinion will be attached to the report.
If the parties do not reach an amicable solution to the dispute, the Financial Ombudsman will prepare an opinion in which, in particular, he will – in an impartial manner – assess the legal circumstances of the case. If the factual and legal status allows it (which is not frequent), the Ombudsman may support the position of the customer or financial institution in the opinion. The Ombudsman may not always take an unequivocal position on the matter, e.g. when the facts of the case have not been established or the legal status is ambiguous (e.g. discrepancies in jurisprudence). In such situations, the Ombudsman explains what the deficiencies are in the facts of the case or the ambiguity of the legal assessment. This approach allows the parties to assess their legal situation, e.g. in a possible court dispute.