The Complaints Committee on Transactions with Financial Firms
The FME accommodates the Complaints Committee on Transactions with Financial Firms, which deals with disputes between consumers and credit institutions, securities firms, or the subsidiaries of such financial firms. The FME receives appeals submitted by clients and provides the committee with meeting facilities and clerical assistance.
Who can turn to the committee?
Clients who have entered into a contract with a financial firm may turn to the Committee. The choice to appeal is always at the clients' discretion, i.e. they do not have to seek the approval of the financial Firm concerned.
How does one seek a ruling?
- A special form must be used. Forms can be obtained by selecting Appeals Form (Acrobat) Forms are also available at the offices of the FME. The form shall be delivered or sent by post to the office of the FME.
- Private individuals pay a fee of ISK 5000 upon lodging an appeal with the Financial Supervisory Authority. This fee is refunded when a ruling has been passed if the client's claim is wholly or partly accepted. The fee may be refunded if a case is dismissed following an agreement between the client and the financial enterprise concerned.
- Owners of private enterprises whose complaints are related to their business activities pay a fee of ISK 15,000 upon lodging an appeal with the FME. In other respects, the provisions of paragraph 2 above shall apply to the owners of private firms. Legal persons pay a fee of ISK 30,000 upon lodging an appeal with the FME. If the claim is either wholly or partly accepted, the entire amount of the fee is refunded after a ruling has been passed.
- An appeal is not approved unless the fee is paid in full at the office of the FME or enclosed with the completed appeal form.
- It is important to enclose all necessary documentation concerning the disagreement at hand, including reasons for the complaint, the views of the appellant, etc. as detailed on the appeals form.
- Careful preparation is helpful to the Committee in concluding matters promptly and efficiently. Appellants are advised to study the information provided below on the committee and its areas of responsibility.
Who is responsible for the committee?
The Committee operates in accordance with an agreement between the Ministry of Commerce, the Financial Services Association and the Consumers' Association of Iceland as June 8th, 2000.
What is the committee's area of responsibility?
- The clients of the financial firms can turn to the Committee with grievances arising from disputed. In addition the Committee handles complaints concerning legal disputes between financial firms, or their subsidiaries and their clients, provided there is a contractual relationship between these parties.
- The Committee does not settle disputes that come under the jurisdiction of the Icelandic government. Nor does it handle claims that cannot be valued in financial terms, changes in the general financial charges of financial firms, or disputes that are being handled by civil courts or courts of arbitration. The Committee does not handle cases that are so unclear, badly informed or if the claims are so vague that they are unfit for ruling.
- The Committee may dismiss a case on the grounds that the available information or other special circumstances render it unfit for ruling. A dismissal shall be supported by arguments and accompanied by information on how to seek recourse within the legal system or from other organisations. If the committee has begun procedures to settle a dispute that subsequently comes before a court of law, the case shall be dismissed by the Committee.
How does the committee operate?
When a complaint has been received, the Committee sends all accompanying documents to the financial firms in question as well as to any other party that might be particularly concerned, such as guarantors.
If a financial firm has not forwarded objections or comments to the Committee within three weeks of the receipt of the complaint, procedures may start on the case on the basis of the available information unless the Committee has accepted a request for a further delay from the financial firms.
A complaint may be withdrawn at any stage. The case is dismissed if the financial firms and the client reach an agreement.
The Committee decides on the kind of information necessary so that a ruling can be made. The Committee may call upon parties to give a report. If a party fails to attend and has no lawful reason for this absence or refuses to supply the Committee with the requested information, the Committee may dismiss the case or rule on the basis of the available information.
The Committee may also request special expert opinion if necessary. As a rule, it shall be the responsibility of the financial firms concerned to seek the required expert opinion. The Committee may decide to collect such information without involving the parties to the case. In other respects the Committee decides on the information to be collected.
Committee rulings shall be made within eight weeks of receiving all the documentation relevant to the complaint in question.
The findings of the Committee shall be sent to the parties concerned within 10 days of the ruling. At the same time, the client shall be informed of the possibility of taking legal action or any other available resort depending on the nature of the case. In general, a delay of 4 weeks shall be granted between the announcement of a ruling and its fulfilment.
There are certain limits to the re-opening of cases, which further emphasises the importance of carefully preparing each appeal. According to Committee by-laws, the Committee may decide that a case for which a ruling has already been passed be examined again on the basis of new information, which might have brought about a different outcome had it been available at the time of the ruling.
Committee rulings do not prevent subsequent handling of a case by a court of law.
Who are the committee members?
The Committee is made up of five members who shall all be of legal age, have an unblemished reputation, and always have had full control of their personal finances. The chairman and vice-chairman shall also possess the necessary qualifications required for the Office of District Court Judge. Two members shall be jointly nominated by the financial firms participating in the Committee, two by the Consumers' Association of Iceland and one, who is also the chairman of the Committee, by the Minister of Commerce. Alternates are similarly appointed and shall hold the same qualifications. The chairman's alternate acts as chairman in his absence.