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Independent Review Of Banking Ombudsman

Thursday 4 August 2005

Former Parliamentary Ombudsman To Conduct Wide-Ranging Independent Review Of Banking Ombudsman Scheme

The Chairman of the Banking Ombudsman Commission, the Hon. Sir Ian Barker QC, today announced the launching of a wide-ranging independent review of the Banking Ombudsman scheme, to be conducted by Judge Anand Satyanand DCNZM, a former Parliamentary Ombudsman and District Court Judge, and an active legal teacher and writer.

Sir Ian drew attention to the relevance of Judge Satyanand’s life-long record of community involvement with a broad cross-section of New Zealand’s increasingly diverse society.

The Office of the Banking Ombudsman was established in July 1992, and played a trail-blazing role as the first ombudsman scheme to be introduced in New Zealand outside of the public sector.

Sir Ian commented that New Zealand banks had showed considerable courage in taking this then unprecedented step, and observed that now, after thirteen years of business as usual, mainly in accordance with the original guidelines for the scheme, the Banking Ombudsman Commission had identified a need for a wide-ranging independent review.

“Times have changed more than a little”, he said. “The banking sector has changed almost beyond recognition since the scheme was established, and we now need to establish to what extent the original mandate of the Banking Ombudsman is still relevant, and to what extent it is in need of adjustment”.

Sir Ian said that Judge Satyanand would solicit submissions from a diverse range of banking, financial, and consumer organisations. Sir Ian added that, in his opinion, the success of the review would, to a significant extent, also depend on lively input from the general public and community organisations on all matters covered by the review.

Sir Ian noted that some concerns had recently been expressed about the independence of the Banking Ombudsman, and emphasised the special importance of addressing this issue.

Liz Brown, the Banking Ombudsman, said that she welcomes the review, which provides a much-needed opportunity to ensure that the scheme reflects the current reality of the fast-changing banking sector, and is also attuned to the needs of today’s banking clientele.

She noted with approval that that the six benchmarks for the review are the accessibility, independence, fairness, accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Banking Ombudsman scheme, and commented on the importance of achieving ever higher levels of performance in all these aspects of its important conciliation and dispute resolution work.

ENDS

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