Rules and procedures

Rules and requirements  

Rules and requirements

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 customers.

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 each case.

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) 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.

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 :

  1. You have previously made a complaint and the matter was investigated by the Ombudsman and a decision given.

  2. Where 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.

  3. Your complaint is already the subject matter of proceedings before any Court of Law/Tribunal/Arbitration etc.
The Ombudsman also has the right to reject and/or not proceed to inquire into any complaint if in the Ombudsman’s opinion:
  1. The complaint is frivolous/vexatious or was made in bad faith or without sufficient cause.

  2. That the complainant has not pursued the complaint with reasonable diligence.

  3. There was no real loss or damage or inconvenience caused to the complainant.

  4. 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.



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 Law.

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.


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