FINE - The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau

Code of Practice

Code of Practice in FINE's dispute resolution

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 Practice applied to FINE’s dispute resolution activities complement the Regulations.

1. Initiation and preparation of a dispute case

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 Procedure in a dispute case

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 Dispute resolution

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.