The free, independent dispute resolution service, the Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS), is appealing to professional services firms to see if their current and previous clients' longstanding bank disputes can be tackled.

BBRS's Historical Scheme covers banking complaints first registered in the period from 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019. SME businesses may qualify for support if they had turnover between £1m and £6.5m per annum at the time of their complaint, and their case has not already been settled, been subject to an independent review, or gone to court. Businesses with turnover between £6.5m and £10m with unresolved banking complaints since April 2019 can apply to the BBRS Contemporary Scheme for support.

The process is overseen by chief adjudicator Alexandra Marks, a deputy High Court judge, and resolves disputes based on what is fair and reasonable for each case. Businesses going through the service will be assigned a skilled dispute resolution specialist, who will act as a single point of contact and offer practical support. The BBRS is able to make both financial and non-financial awards when a complaint is upheld. 

SMEs are encouraged to use a new online tool to see if the BBRS can help them, particularly those with older unresolved complaints, as the deadline for historical complaint applications is 14 February 2023. They can check and register online at this link.

It is estimated that nearly 600,000 UK SMEs could qualify for the BBRS services. Accountants, solicitors, financial advisers, and other professional services firms are likely to have had dealings with these SMEs, including those which have since closed down, merged or been sold. The BBRS is urging the sector to reach out to those current and former clients who may have outstanding banking disputes dating back to 2001.

Chief adjudicator Alexandra Marks commented: “We want to encourage professional services firms and advisers to consider whether their current and previous clients could benefit from the BBRS service. If they know of clients with unresolved banking disputes, they can steer them towards us to seek our help to achieve a fair resolution. We urge SMEs to see if they qualify for our help and, if so, to register as soon as possible. If unsure, businesses can check online or contact us to find out more.”