Rules and procedures
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
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
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 :
You have previously
made a complaint and the matter was investigated by
the Ombudsman and a decision given.
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.
Your complaint is already
the subject matter of proceedings before any Court of
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
- There was no real loss or damage or inconvenience caused to
- 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
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.