Low number of bank mediations ‘alarming’ says Higgins

The number of customers engaged in mediation with their banks is “alarmingly low”, given the number of complaints against the financial sector is on the rise.

This is the view of Labour Galway East senator Lorraine Higgins who was commenting on figures issued by the Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The figures show a steady increase in the number of complaints to the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau from 2,381 in 2010 to 2,694 in 2011 and to 2,296 in the nine month period up to last September.

Meanwhile the number of complaints against banking institutions stands at more than 7,200 from 2009 to 2011.

Sen Higgins said the figures show the mediation service “is not working and warrants further investigation to explain why”.

To further support her contention, Sen Higgins pointed out that in 2011, only 15 cases were referred to full mediation - where the two parties met with a mediator.

“What is more alarming is that only 23 cases were ever resolved through mediation,” she said. “Is the mediation being offered just another bureaucratic layer whereby the only option left after an unsuccessful resolution is a judicial review in the High Court which remains an expensive outcome?”

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