|What is the Financial Ombudsman Scheme?
|With the concurrence of the Central Bank and as part
of the Financial Sector Reforms, a voluntary scheme
entitled “Financial Ombudsman, Sri Lanka”
has been established by the Banking industry, the registered
Finance Companies, the Primary Dealers and Leasing Companies
that are supervised by the Central Bank. The Scheme
will be funded and co-ordinated by a company incorporated
by the above mentioned financial institutions called
The Financial Ombudsman Sri Lanka (Guarantee) Ltd.
The objective of the Ombudsman scheme is the satisfactory
settlement and resolution of complaints/disputes by
customers of banks and other financial institutions
covered by the Scheme with power to make monetary
awards binding on the participating financial institutions.
|Who is the Financial Ombudsman, Sri Lanka?
The Ombudsman will be known as The Financial Ombudsman,
The Financial Ombudsman is a person of high repute
with experience in Banking and Financial Services.
He has been selected by a panel of representatives
from the Central Bank, the Securities Exchange Commission,
the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Bar Association,
the Organisation of Professional Associations and
a representative of the participating financial institutions.
|What are the Ombudsman’s powers?
The Financial Ombudsman has the power to inquire
into and settle any complaints and disputes between
individual customers and the financial institutions
covered by the Ombudsman Scheme.
|What complaints are covered by the Ombudsman
The following are matters on which a complaint
can be made under the Ombudsman Scheme
- Non-payment/inordinate delay in payment or collection
of cheques, drafts, bills, etc.
- Non-issue of drafts to customers and others.
- Non-adherence to prescribed working hours.
- Failure to honour Guarantee/Letter of Credit commitments
- Claims in respect of unauthorized or fraudulent
withdrawals from deposit accounts, current accounts,
- Fraudulent encashment of a cheque/bank draft.
- Complaints by customers pertaining to the operation
of any customer accounts maintained with the Financial
- Complaints from export customers on the mis-handling
of Export Bills, Collection of Bills and delays
in receipt of export proceeds.
- Complaints from non-residents having accounts
in Sri Lanka in relation to their remittances to
Sri Lanka and operations in their accounts.
- Complaints relating to the violation of directives
of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in relation to
- Complaints in respect of charges/fees levied.
In relation to charges/interest rates and fees,
the complaints are restricted to situations where
the actual rates charged are different to the published
rates prescribed by the Bank/Financial Institutions
- The Financial Ombudsman may also deal with any
such other relevant matters as may be specified
by the Central Bank from time to time.
|Who is entitled to complain?
If you are a customer of a Financial Institution
to whom this Ombudsman Scheme applies and you have
a good reason, you can make a complaint.
For the list of financial institutions covered by
this Scheme, click here.
|To whom in the financial institution should
you first complain?
As a first step, before complaining to the Ombudsman,
make the complaint at the Branch or Office which provided
At each of the branches and offices situated outside
the Head Office, the financial institution covered
by this Scheme have designated officers to whom you
can talk or write to about your complaint. Please
ask for the “Complaints Resolution Officer”
or “Complaints Settlement Officer” at
the Branch. He/She will help you and attend to you.
As a second step, if you are not satisfied with the
way in which your complaint was dealt with at the
Branch, please contact/write to the Complaints Resolution
Officer at the Head Office and he/she will attend
As a third step, if your complaint cannot be resolved
even by the Head Office staff, the financial institution
must inform you in writing and then you are quite
entitled to make a complaint to the Ombudsman to resolve
|What Forms must you fill up to complain and
what is the procedure to be followed?
Form “A” is a standard form for making
a complaint to one of the Branches or to the Head
office of a financial institution.
Form “B” may be used when making a complaint
directly to the Ombudsman.
These forms can be found on Application
Forms page in this web site.
Please read the following Rules/Conditions
carefully, because they will apply to all complaints.
Unless these Rules are satisfied, your complaint may
be rejected without an Inquiry.
We want to make the Ombudsman Scheme a success. One
way to do this is to observe these rules.
Also, please consult this web-site of the Ombudsman
. This web-site contains these Rules and all other
information about the Ombudsman Scheme, including
the standard forms which you can use to make any complaint.
We advise you to look at the web-site before making
|What are the rules and requirements for making
The Financial Ombudsman, Sri Lanka
is a respected independent person. He will act impartially
and do his best to inquire into your complaint and
settle it. He is also assisted by an able and qualified
staff. The staff members will discuss your complaint
with you and if necessary obtain all the relevant
documentation and facts from the financial institution
against whom you have complained. For this purpose
you will have to give a written authority for the
release of such information. This written authority
is required because without your permission, the
Duty of Secrecy applies to all information about
The Ombudsman is not bound to
observe any procedure or rules relating to evidence
etc. like a Judge in a court of law. The Ombudsman
is entitled to follow any procedure considered appropriate.
The Ombudsman will be guided by the evidence placed
before him/her, principles of Banking Law and Practice,
Directives issued by the Central Bank and the Codes
of conduct and Manual of Procedures used by the
financial institution in question. The Ombudsman
is more concerned with what is just and equitable
and will always act in the interest of justice in
While a Lawyer/Attorney-at-Law
can draft your complaint or help you to draft your
complaint, no lawyer is permitted to appear before
the Ombudsman. When making a written complaint to
the Ombudsman, you must agree that no lawyer will
be representing you at any inquiry or proceedings
before the Ombudsman.
In your written complaint you
must also disclaim all rights on your part to take
legal or any other action against the Ombudsman
and his staff for any cause whatsoever even if your
complaint is unsuccessful and/or you are dissatisfied
with the Ombudsman’s decision/award.
The Ombudsman is entitled to reject any complaint
if in his opinion he feels that the complaint is
frivolous or vexatious.
Every complaint to the Ombudsman must be in writing
and signed by the Complainant. It must also be accompanied
by a fee of Rs.250/= (Two hundred and fifty rupees).
If the complaint is successful or partly successful,
that fee will be refunded. If not, it will be forfeited
and the Complainant cannot ask for a refund.
You cannot complain direct to the Ombudsman unless
you have (a) already made a written complaint to
the financial institution concerned and (b) that
financial institution has not within a period of
Four (4) Weeks resolved your complaint or replied
to you about it to your satisfaction. It is only
after satisfying the above conditions that you can
make a written complaint to the Ombudsman.
Your complaint to the financial
institution or to the Ombudsman must be made within
twelve months/one year after the cause of action
or ground for the complaint had arisen. The one
year will be counted up to the date of your first
complaint to the financial institution. This requirement
of complaining within one year is to prevent belated
complaints being made.
You cannot make a complaint to the Ombudsman if
previously made a complaint and the matter
was investigated by the Ombudsman and a
similar matter/complaint was investigated
by the Ombudsman and a decision given. That
decision will apply to you unless the facts
of your complaint are quite different.
is already the subject matter of proceedings
before any Court of Law/Tribunal/Arbitration
The Ombudsman also has the right to reject and/or
not proceed to inquire into any complaint if in
the Ombudsman’s opinion:
- The complaint is frivolous/vexatious or was made
in bad faith or without sufficient cause.
- That the complainant has not pursued the complaint
with reasonable diligence.
- There was no real loss or damage or inconvenience
caused to the complainant.
- The complaint is of a complicated nature which
requires consideration of elaborate documentary
and oral evidence or involved complicated legal
issues which are not appropriate for an inquiry
or decision by a person such as the Ombudsman.
|How does the Ombudsman inquire into and settle
a dispute and what Award can the Ombudsman make?
|When the Ombudsman’s Office receives a complaint
it will first satisfy itself that the complaint conforms
with the Rules. For example (a) that the complaint has
been first submitted to the financial institution (b)
that it is in writing and signed by the complainant
and other requirements as specified earlier.
If the Ombudsman is satisfied that the complaint is
worthy of investigation, the Ombudsman's office will
get all the necessary information and documents from
the complainant and the relevant financial institution.
The Ombudsman Office will then endeavour to promote
a settlement of the complaint/dispute to the satisfaction
of the complainant.
If there can be no settlement of the complaint, then
within a period of six weeks from the date of the complaint
or such further period as the Ombudsman thinks necessary,
he/she will make an Award after giving both parties
an opportunity to present their case. In making this
Award, the Ombudsman, shall as stated earlier be guided
by the evidence placed before him by parties, the principles
of Banking Law and Practice, directions issued by the
Central Bank, Codes of Conduct and Manuals and such
other factors which in his/her opinion are necessary
in the interest of justice.
The Award shall state the direction/directions, if any,
to the Financial Institution for specific performance
of its obligations in addition to the amount to be paid
by the Financial Institution to the complainant by way
of compensation for the actual monetary loss suffered
by him subject to a maximum of Sri Lanka Rupees Three
Million, based on the evidence produced along with the
summary of reasons for making the Award. If the amounts
involved are larger, the Ombudsman may recommend that
the parties (if they so wish) proceed to a Court of
While an Ombudsman’s Award is binding on the Financial
Institution, a complainant who is dissatisfied with
such an Award may, if he/she so wishes, proceed to a
Court of Law. In such an event, however, the Ombudsman
will be entitled to make available to such Court or
the Judge a full report of the Ombudsman’s inquiry
into such complaint and the Award, and the reasons for
it and the complainant shall not be entitled to object
to such evidence being given.
Acceptance of an Award of the Ombudsman by the complainant
shall be treated as a full and final settlement of the
matter among the parties. The Ombudsman shall direct
the complainant to give the Financial Institution concerned,
at the time of receiving payment, an undertaking that
he/she is accepting the Award granted in full and final
settlement of the matter and that he/she will not have
any further claim or remedy on the same issue.
In the event of the complainant refusing to honour the
indemnity given in favour of the Financial Institution
it will be open to the Financial Institution to approach
a Court of Law for invoking its claim based on the indemnity,
against the complainant.
A copy of the Award shall be sent to the complainant
and the Financial Institution named in the complaint.
An Award shall not be binding on a Financial Institution
against which it is made unless the complainant furnishes
to it within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt
of the copy of the Award, a letter of acceptance of
the Award in full and final settlement of his claim
in the matter. If the complainant does not accept the
Award made by the Ombudsman and fails to furnish his
letter of acceptance within the stipulated time period
or within any extension of time granted, the Ombudsman
shall reject the complaint.
The Financial Institution shall within one month from
the date of receipt by it, of the acceptance of the
Award by the complainant in writing, or within such
extended time granted to the complainant, comply with
the Award and initiate compliance to the Ombudsman.
All details about the Financial Ombudsman scheme and
the steps you can take as a customer are also outlined
on this web site. We request that you to refer this
web-site before taking any steps.
|Does it cost me anything to complain?
Every complaint to the Ombudsman must be in writing
and signed by the Complainant. It must also be accompanied
by a fee of Rs.250/= (Two hundred and fifty rupees)
which can be paid by cash, bank draft, personal cheque,
money order or postal order. If the complaint is successful
or partly successful, that fee will be refunded. If
not, it will be forfeited and the Complainant cannot
ask for a refund.