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These Regulations of the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau (FINE) are in force as from 1 January 2021.
The Signatory Parties of this contractual arrangement are the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Financial Supervisory Authority and Finance Finland (FFI).
The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Service (FINE) is a collaborative arrangement between the authorities, customer organisations and the financial sector. The purpose of FINE is to promote the interests of customers and enhance their trust in the financial operations, to improve financial literacy among the consumers and otherwise develop the everyday practices in the financial sector in line with sound development principles. The FINE organisation consists of the Supervisory Board and the Executive Committee, the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau, which serves as the Bureau of the organisation, as well as the Insurance Complaints Board, the Banking Complaints Board and the Investment Complaints Board.
FINE's core operations include its advisory, information and dispute resolution services. However, FINE does not provide investment advice, nor does it perform individual product or service comparisons.
In examining disputes, FINE follows the principles of fair trial, such as the independence and neutrality of the persons appointed to settle the dispute as well as the right of both litigant parties to be heard. Moreover, FINE respects the obligations under the Act on Alternative Dispute Resolution (1696/2015) when examining the consumer disputes referred to in the Act.
Cases will be taken up on the condition that the financial service provider, party to the dispute, is domiciled in Finland or has a Finland-based subsidiary or branch office, and that the service provider is a member of Finance Finland (FFI). In other situations, the condition applies that the service provider must have made a specific agreement with FINE on the use of its services. Without such specific agreement with FINE, the cross-border disputes based on the freedom of provision of financial services will be examined in line with the principles followed by the FIN-NET scheme promoted by the European Commission.
The arrangement referred to in these Regulations does not apply to the statutory pension, health or unemployment insurance policies.
The tasks of the FINE Supervisory Board include the following:
The Supervisory Board comprises the Chairperson, three Members representing the Signatory Parties as well as Members invited by the above.
The Chairperson is not a representative of the Parties but is unanimously appointed by them. The Chairperson is authorised to sign for the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau.
The Financial Supervisory Authority, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority and Finance Finland (FFI) each appoint one Supervisory Board Member and Deputy Member. In addition, these Signatories may jointly invite Board Members who represent the Ministries covering the sphere of operation of FINE.
FINE’s Executive Committee shall:
The Executive Committee has eight Members and eight Deputy Members. Half of the Members of the Executive Committee represent the authorities and organisations, while the other Members are appointed by Finance Finland.
The Executive Committee elects the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson from its membership.
The Supervisory Board and the Executive Committee convene at the invitation of their Chairpersons. The Supervisory Board may also decide to meet at regular intervals. A Supervisory Board Member can request that the Board be convened to discuss a determined issue.
The Supervisory Board and the Executive Committee constitute a quorum when the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson and at least half of the Members or Deputy Members are present.
The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau shall fulfill the following tasks independently:
To perform its advisory functions, the Bureau provides customers with guidance and information. Customers are offered information on the applicable contractual terms and legal provisions as well as the resolution practices of the dispute resolution bodies. In addition, the Bureau will inform customers about the available means of appeal and dispute resolution.
FINE’s Managing Director
The Managing Director will be responsible for the organisation of FINE’s daily operations and for the use of funds.
The Managing Director and the Director are each severally authorised to sign for the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau.
The Managing Director appoints the persons responsible for dispute resolution at the Bureau.
The mission of the Complaints Boards is to promote good insurance, banking, securities market and crowdfunding practices in the operation of the financial sector by issuing resolution recommendations in questions related to liability for damages or other disputes.
The Insurance Complaints Board issues recommendations to resolve disputes on the interpretation of the legislation and insurance terms, related to the insurance relationship and brought to the Complaints Board by the policyholder, insured, injured party, beneficiary or the insurance company in question. The Insurance Complaints Board does not examine issues related to the statutory accident insurance and patient insurance policies. Issues related to the statutory motor liability insurance policy are examined by the Insurance Complaints Board only if the dispute is of a private-law nature and outside the competence of the Traffic Accident and Patient Injury Board or similar bodies.
The Banking Complaints Board issues recommendations to resolve disputes related to the banking relationship, brought to the Complaints Board by the customer or the bank in question.
The Investment Complaints Board issues recommendations to resolve disputes brought to the Complaints Board by non-professional investor-customers and service providers. The Complaints Board will examine issues between the service provider and non-professional investor-customer, related to investment and mutual fund services as referred to in the Act on Investment Services and the Act on Common Funds. In addition, the Complaints Board will examine issues between the service provider and the non-professional investor customer related to investment-type insurance policies governed by the Insurance Contracts Act, as well as issues between the crowdfunding intermediary and the non-professional customer as referred to in the Crowdfunding Act. The recommendations focus on the application of legislation, provisions by the authorities, fair securities market practices, fair insurance practices, fair crowdfunding practices and contractual terms, as well as on the action of the service provider. The recommendations can also address the amount of the compensation. The Investment Complaints Board will not examine claims related to companies other than investment service companies, fund management companies, insurers offering investment-type insurance policies or crowdfunding intermediaries.
Reimbursement of the expenses incurred from submitting a complaint will not be examined in the dispute. However, a dispute on whether these expenses are covered by a legal expenses insurance policy can be examined as an insurance issue.
For a particular reason, the Complaints Boards can provide courts of law, authorities or other similar parties with expert opinions in individual litigations related to their specific sectors of competence.
Procedure in the Bureau
The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau will seek to resolve disputes between the parties and give recommendations for resolutions in cases with an established resolution practice or cases which are unambiguous in terms of the application of the law or contractual terms.
The persons responsible for dispute resolution in the issues handled by the Bureau must have the professional and legal expertise required for the purpose and have an employment contract with the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau.
Procedure in the Complaints Boards
The Complaints Boards have a Chairperson and Members who are independent in the performance of their dispute resolution duties. The Complaints Boards elect the Vice Chairperson among the Members.
The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau asks the Signatory Parties of the organisation to nominate the candidates for Complaints Board Members and their personal Deputies. The candidates must possess the professional and legal competence required by the task.
The Complaints Boards will make their decisions based on the preparatory proposals made by the Secretary who acts as the referring official.
Banking Complaints Board
The Banking Complaints Board has four Members in addition to the Chairperson. The FINE Executive Committee will appoint the Chairperson and the Members, with Deputies, based on the candidates nominated by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Financial Supervisory Authority and Finance Finland.
Investment Complaints Board
The Investment Complaints Board has four Members in addition to the Chairperson. The FINE Executive Committee will appoint the Chairperson and the Members, with Deputies, based on the candidates nominated by the Finnish Shareholders’ Association, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Financial Supervisory Authority and Finance Finland.
Insurance Complaints Board
The activities of the Insurance Complaints Board are divided into Sections. Currently, there are five Sections.
For a particular reason, the Chairperson can order a specific Section to examine a case.
The Insurance Complaints Board is composed of the Chairperson and Section Chairs. The Chairperson of the Insurance Complaints Board also chairs one of the Sections, as well as the Extended Section. The Section Chairpersons chair one or several Sections each and act as Deputies of the Complaints Board Chairperson.
Each of the Sections I, II, III and V is composed of four Members, with Deputies, and the Section Chairperson. Section IV is composed of six Members, with Deputies, and the Chairperson, plus additional Members, with Deputies, for the examination of forwarding and consultation liability issues. Complaints Board Members and Deputies can also serve in Sections other than the one to which they have been appointed.
The FINE Executive Committee will appoint the Chairpersons of the Complaints Board and the Sections as well as the Members with their Deputies. The Executive Committee will appoint the Members of Sections I, II and III among the candidates proposed by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority and Finance Finland. The Executive Committee will appoint the Members of Section IV among the candidates proposed by Finance Finland, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and the Federation of Finnish Commerce, while Deputy Member candidates are proposed by Finance Finland, the Association of Finnish Lawyers, the District Court of Helsinki and the Central Chamber of Commerce. The additional Members and their Deputies will be appointed among the candidates nominated by the Finnish Freight Forwarders’ Association and the Finnish Association of Consulting Firms SKOL. The Executive Committee will appoint the Members of Section V among the candidates nominated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Pharma Industry Finland PIF and Finance Finland.
Simplified procedure at the Complaints Boards
The Complaints Boards can apply a simplified procedure to issues that have an established resolution practice or are unambiguous in terms of the application of the law or contractual terms.
In the simplified procedure, the Board is solely composed of the Chairperson. The decision of applying the simplified procedure to a case is made by the Secretary acting as the presenting official for the Section in question. If necessary, the Chairperson can decide to refer the case to the relevant Complaints Board or Section.
Extended Section of the Insurance Complaints Board
When necessary and on the initiative of the Section Chairperson, the Extended Section will discuss issues related to the interpretation and application of the law or contractual terms and conditions, potentially raised in various Sections or important in principle. The Extended Section means that the Section in question is complemented by the Chairpersons of the other Sections.
Decision to dismiss the case without examining its merits
The Complaints Board, the referring official appointed as the Head of Section of the Board, the FINE Managing Director or the Director can decide to dismiss a dispute without examining its merits as per Article 10 of these Regulations or on the grounds that the issue is not within FINE’s competence.
The Complaints Boards are convened by their Chairperson or Vice Chairperson. The Banking and Investment Complaints Boards and the individual Sections of the Insurance Complaints Board constitute a quorum when the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson and at least half of the Members are present.
The Extended Section of the Insurance Complaints Board constitutes a quorum when the Chairperson of at least one other Section, the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson and two Members are present.
A dispute is initiated at FINE through a complaint sent in writing or in electronic form. The customer shall specify the service provider constituting the adversary party and the monetary claim, request for a declaratory statement or other claim, stating the reasons.
The Complaints Board follows a written procedure unless it, in its composition examining the dispute, decides, for a particular reason, to hear the litigants or other parties orally. The decisions made in the Complaints Board meetings will be recorded.
On its own initiative, the Complaints Board may hear experts or ask for an expert opinion. The expert cannot be a person with an employment or similar relationship to the service provider with the product under examination, or any person who could not be heard as an expert under the Code of Judicial Procedure.
The case will be annulled if the customer does not specify the complaint, despite being invited to do so, or withdraws it. The case will also be annulled if the customer’s agent does not present an appropriate authorisation from the customer.
FINE is entitled to dismiss a dispute being processed in the Bureau or the Complaints Boards without examination under the following circumstances:
The Complaints Boards seek to issue unanimous decisions. If the Members of a Complaints Board fail to reach unanimity after examining the issue, the Board must take a vote.
The presenting official is not part of the composition issuing the recommendation for a resolution and cannot participate in the vote. The opinion seconded by the majority of the Complaints Board Members will carry. If the vote is even, the Chairperson will cast the decisive vote. For the rest, the voting will be covered by the provisions of the Code of Judicial Procedure concerning the principles of voting at a court of law.
The recommendations for a resolution are sent to the parties in written or other permanent form. After a decision is taken by the Bureau, a dispute can be examined by the respective Complaints Board if the customer so requests for a justified reason.
FINE will re-examine a case already resolved if there is a weighty reason to do so. Weighty reasons may relate to decisions that have been based on clearly erroneous or incomplete information or a manifestly incorrect application of law or situations where a procedural error has occurred in the decision-making process. The parties will be informed of the re-examination.
The presenting official appointed as the Head of Section of the Complaints Board may correct any obvious typing or calculation errors or similar clear errors in the Board decision. The Head of Section may also decide whether or not the Complaints Board will re-examine a case already resolved.
The member of the Bureau personnel in charge of dispute resolution may correct any obvious typing or calculation errors or similar clear errors in a decision issued through the procedure in the Bureau, or decide on the re-examination of a case already resolved.
If a Complaints Board receives or the Board Secretariat expects to receive several complaints on the same interpretative problem or other issue related to a particular service provider, the Complaints Board can, to expedite the examination of the cases, take up one or two of these similar cases for a preliminary ruling. Since such decisions by the Complaints Board constitute preliminary rulings, they are knowingly issued with the aim of providing guidance.
Once the preliminary ruling procedure has started, any further complaints on the same issue shall wait for the pending preliminary ruling. The parties to the cases at hand as well as other customers involved in the issue will be informed of this.
The Signatory Parties find it important that the financial sector service providers comply with FINE’s resolution recommendations.
The resolution recommendations issued by FINE are public, unless otherwise stipulated by the relevant Board or the member of personnel in charge of dispute resolution at the Bureau. However, the names of the parties involved are not made public.
The terms of office of the FINE bodies and Complaints Boards, as well as of the Bureau personnel in charge of dispute resolution, are three calendar years at a time. If a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Member or Deputy Member or a member of personnel in charge of dispute resolution resigns in the middle of a term, a new person will be appointed for the remaining term.
FINE’s services are available to customers at no charge.
Finance Finland (FFI) will cover FINE’s costs. Service providers who are not members of Finance Finland must, however, contribute to FINE’s costs when they use FINE's services.
Members of FINE’s Supervisory Body, Executive Committee and Complaints Boards as well as FINE officials are covered with the same confidentiality obligation as that provided by the Act on Credit Institutions, the Insurance Companies Act, the Act on Common Funds and the Act on Investment Services.
The present Regulations can be amended or they can be terminated at the initiative of a Signatory Party.
These Regulations enter into force on 1 January 2021. They will revoke the precedent FINE Regulations, applied as of 15 April 2019.
FINE is an advisory and dispute resolution organisation operating in the financial sector under the arrangement between the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Financial Supervisory Authority and the Federation of Finnish Financial Services. The Signatories have adopted the FINE Regulations available at the FINE website www.fine.fi. The present Code of Conduct applied to FINE’s dispute resolution activities complement the Regulations.
1.1 Attempts to clear the case between the parties
Under Article 10 of the FINE Regulations, the dispute case can be initiated at FINE only after the parties have tried to solve the case in direct contact. A written decision or a reply to a complaint from the insurance company, bank or other service provider is required.
1.2 Initiating the case
The case can be initiated through a freeform letter, fax or using the web form available at www.fine.fi. The complaints can be made in Finnish, Swedish or English. However, oral recommendations cannot be requested.
In order to process the customer’s personal data, FINE needs the consent referred to in the Personal Data Act, and to document the consent, the complaint must be signed or the recommendation should be requested using FINE's web form.
1.3 Releasing information to an attorney
FINE respects the rules of insurance and banking secrecy. Releasing information on the customer to a third party, such as an attorney, calls for the customer's consent. Therefore, a customer wishing to use an attorney, public legal aid counsel or other representative, a power of attorney given by the customer, or other document demonstrating the customer's consent, is needed.
1.4 Hearing of the policyholder or another party in a general liability insurance case
If the injured party has requested a resolution recommendation in a general liability insurance case, FINE will reserve the opportunity, referred to in Section 68 of the Insurance Contracts Act, for the policyholder to be heard. Other parties to be heard may be, for example, competing beneficiaries.
The policyholder or other party heard will be provided with the documents sent to FINE by the party requesting the resolution recommendation as well as the reply by the insurance company, with the exception of potential detailed data concerning the state of health of the customer requesting the resolution recommendation.
2.1 Nature of the procedure
FINE’s dispute solving is of legal nature. In their dispute resolving operations, the FINE Bureau and Complaints Boards also follow the principles of good insurance practice, good banking practice and good securities market practice, the guidelines and norms issued by the Financial Supervisory Authority as well as the self-regulation norms of the financial sector, such as the Insurance Companies’ Claims Handing Guidelines and General Principles of Selection of Risks in Insurance Operations, adopted by the Federation of Finnish Financial Services.
2.2 Active role and burden of allegation
Under the Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes (Directive on consumer ADR), the parties must be able to act in an alternative dispute resolution procedure without relying on a legal counsel.
Consumers or corresponding customers cannot, in practice, be expected to have legal expertise, and therefore the alternative dispute resolution bodies must play an active role in these cases. The FINE Bureau and the Complaints Board can also rest their decision in favour of the consumer or corresponding customer on facts that the customer has not noted or has not been able to refer to. In this case, the parties concerned or other potential interested parties are reserved an opportunity to give the necessary opinions before the decision on the case is made.
The financial sector service providers are expert organisation in their field of operation. In their replies and other writs, the service providers must present all the arguments they find necessary for the resolution of the case. In their handling of the case, the FINE Bureau or Complaints Boards do not pay attention to eventual other facts supporting the service provider’s case, unless the customer’s claim is apparently unjustified.
2.3 Material on which decisions are made
The examination of a dispute is based on the written documentation submitted to FINE, or other information such as phone, video or other recordings. The FINE Bureau or Complaints Boards can hear the parties concerned or other parties orally only for particular reasons.
2.3.1 Expert opinions
At its own discretion and expense, FINE can ask for an expert opinion, for example, on medical or construction engineering issues, if it is necessary to assess the evidence provided by the parties or otherwise clarify the case.
The medical experts used by FINE do not examine the customer but issue their opinion on the basis of the documentation submitted in the case.
The expert opinions acquired by FINE will be sent to both parties for their information prior to the decision in the case.
3.1 Resolution recommendation
The resolutions given by the FINE Bureau and Complaints Board are recommendations. They are not binding to the parties, and are not enforceable.
The resolution recommendation is issued in the language used in the complaint, either in Finnish, Swedish or English.
3.2 Issuing the resolution recommendation and returning of materials
The Bureau resolution recommendations are signed, in line with the FINE Regulations, by the person appointed for dispute resolution and the presenting official.
The resolution recommendations issued by a Complaints Board are signed by the Chairperson of the Board or its Section, and the Secretary acting as the presenting official. The recommendation also includes the names of the Complaints Board members who have taken part in the decision-making.
Signed recommendations will be sent to the parties concerned. The recommendations sent to service providers will be addressed to the person issuing the reply on behalf of the service provider, unless otherwise agreed.
Original receipts, photos, medical certificates and other documents returned to the parties will be sent together with the recommendation, unless returned already earlier.
Resolution recommendations containing identifying data about the parties, opinions or other documents cannot be sent, due to data security reasons, in a non-encrypted email.
3.3 Publication of resolution recommendations
The resolution recommendations published in the web database containing the Complaints Boards' recommendations are anonymous. They will be edited so that the parties cannot be recognised on the basis of the information on the event, locality or similar specifying elements.
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