Disputes with financial institutions in other EU countries
If you have a dispute with a financial services provider from another EU/EEA country, you can use FIN-NET to settle the dispute out of court.
FIN-NET is a cross-border out-of-court complaints network and is made up of the existing national complaint schemes for financial services in Europe. FIN-NET handles disputes between consumers and financial services providers - that is banks, insurance companies, investments firms and others. If a consumer in one country has a dispute with a financial service provider in another country, FIN-NET members will put the consumer in touch with the relevant out-of court complaint scheme and provide the necessary information about it.
FIN-NET aims to:
- Give you with easy and informed access to out-of-court redress in cross-border disputes
- Make sure information is exchanged efficiently between European schemes
- Make sure that out-of-court dispute settlement schemes from different European Economic Area countries apply with a common set of minimum guarantees for consumers.
FIN-NET decisions or recommendations are not enforceable in the same way as court decisions. However, in the majority of cases, financial institutions do follow the recommendations of the complaint body even if they are not binding.
In Ireland, the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) is a member of FIN-NET. You should contact the FSPO if you have an unresolved dispute with a financial services provider in another EU/EEA country.
How FIN-NET can help you
FIN-NET is designed to allow you to contact the out-of-court complaint body in your home country even when you have a complaint against a foreign financial firm.
This helps you by:
- Identifying the relevant complaint scheme
- Giving you the necessary information about the scheme and its complaint procedure
You can find more information about each participating national scheme on the FIN-NET website. You can also find information about relevant foreign complaint schemes in your own language from FIN-NET members in your home country.
How your complaint is handled by FIN-NET
When When you get all the necessary information about the relevant complaints scheme and you have decided to make a complaint, you can leave your complaint with the FIN-NET member in your home country. If the FIN-NET member in your home country does not deal with the complaint, it will transfer it to the relevant scheme in your financial service provider's country. In some cases, it may be more efficient to contact the relevant complaints scheme directly and the FIN-NET member in your home country will ask you to do so.
FIN-NET schemes aim to allow you to make your complaint at least in the language of your financial contract or the language in which you have usually dealt with your financial service provider.
Member schemes of FIN-NET handle cross-border complaints with the same efficiency and the same level of care as they handle domestic complaints. If the complaints scheme needs any further information or documentation from you, it will contact you directly. If the scheme needs more general information, that is, information about the legislative framework for consumer protection in your country, it will co-operate directly with the FIN-NET member in your home country.
Member schemes of FIN-NET are linked through a Memorandum of Understanding which lays down:
- The procedural framework for cross-border co-operation
- Basic principles for out-of-court dispute settlement
- A declaration of intent to apply the quality standards set out in European Commission Recommendation 98/257/EC on principles applicable to bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes.
This Recommendation is made up of the following 7 principles:
- Independence and impartiality of the dispute settlement body
- Transparency regarding all the necessary information about the procedure
- A procedure which allows you to present your views, and to hear the argument of the other side of the dispute
- Legality to guarantee that the decision made by the dispute settlement body does not go against your rights under relevant consumer protection legislation
- Freedom to ensure that the decision made is binding only if you were informed it would be binding before the decision was made and you specifically accepted this
- Protection to ensure that you can be represented in the procedure by a third party if you want
- Making sure you can use the advantages of an alternative dispute
- Access to a procedure that is free or of moderate cost
- Access to a quick procedure
- A dispute settlement body that takes an active role and takes into consideration any factors that will help reach a settlement of the dispute
Schemes can only participate in FIN-NET when their member state has notified the European Commission.
How to refer a dispute to FIN-NET
You can get information about participating out-of-court dispute settlement bodies in each EU/EEA country on the FIN-NET website. You can get information on:
- The structure and coverage of the settlement schemes in each country
- The nature of each settlement body's decisions (binding or non-binding)
- The time and award limits
- Charges (if there are any)
- The average time taken to handle the dispute
- Languages you can use in the procedure
If you have a complaint against a financial services provider located in another country, you can use the FIN-NET form for cross-border financial services complaints.
You can also find information how to use FIN-NET in its consumer guide to settling cross-border financial disputes out of court (pdf).