Quick note on Jurisdiction

What is Jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction relates to the rules around what the Ombudsman Service can and can’t look at. We’re likely all aware that there are limits, the problem comes when trying to apply the rules that are set out in the FCA’s handbook.

Reading the rules in black and white, you’d think ‘well this seems self-explanatory’, but the tricky bit is the subjectivity of the rules. Is that mortgage statement sufficient to say that the consumer became aware or ‘ought reasonably’ to have been aware there was an issue? It’s a tough call sometimes.

Which comes first merits or jurisdiction?

For those of you relatively new to complaints handling or who are yet to receive their first complaint, it can be tempting to dive straight into the merits because you can see the logical outcome. But hang on, because it always makes sense to check that this is one that you think the Ombudsman Service can consider.

To be clear, you can turn a complaint aside for being out of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction, but only the Ombudsman Service can emphatically decide that. The rules apply to them and what they can and can’t consider, but you should flag this up in your Final Response Letter if you think that it can’t be looked at.


We’re not going to be able to cover everything off in terms of timebarring here, it’s just too big a topic. But we’ve seen times when businesses have spent a lot of time investigating the merits of the complaint, only to find out from the Ombudsman Service that the complaint is effectively timebarred.

Again, if you think the matter is timebarred, you need to say so to the consumer in your Final Response Letter. However, as we say this is subjective and therefore it makes sense to include some consideration of the merits. You might question this, but remember you can make the consumer aware of this issue but only the Ombudsman Service can decide whether it’s timebarred or not and you’re saving yourself a lot of work at the back end if you at least consider the merits to some extent.

Is the client eligible to make a complaint?

Quick quiz question for you – if you receive a complaint from a guarantor, can this complaint be considered by the Ombudsman Service? Short answer ‘yes’, but you might not have realised this if this isn’t something you’ve seen before.

What about a charity or a trustee? Same again, they can also bring a complaint as they are eligible – but you’ll need to make sure you know what the limits are because both of these categories have upper thresholds, so don’t get caught out. 

What about a Small business? Yes, the DISP rules have been amended to include this category too. 

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with who is eligible to make a complaint, so that you don’t investigate something or divulge something to someone that isn’t entitled to the information. 

Wanting more?

Then it's time to book on to our unpicking jurisdiction course

During the half day workshop we cover everything you need to know about Jurisdiction including:

  • What is jurisdiction and where does it comes from 
  • Voluntary and compulsory jurisdiction
  • Detailed unpicking of the Dispute Resolution rules
  • What does the term ‘6&3’ actually mean?
  • Is there any circumstance under which the 6 months time limit doesn’t trigger?
  • What does eligibility mean and what can be considered?
  • When does territorial scope become triggered?