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RBS set aside £400m for Global Restructuring Group complaints review.

Are Royal Bank of Scotland’s Complaints Processes and Refund Proposals for customers of Global Restructuring Group good enough?

Following growing criticism and investigations into RBS’ now defunct Global Restructuring Group division, the Bank has announced that it will:

  • Implement a new complaints review process, to be overseen by an independent third party, Sir William Blackburne, a retired High Court Judge and
  • Provide refunds for complex fees charged to SME customers by GRG.

RBS has put aside £400m to cover the costs associated with the new complaints review process and refund of complex fees.  

RBS has put forward the proposal as a positive step to redress the Bank’s previous conduct. However, many customers may be left feeling short-changed.

Background

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis over 12,000 SME customers of RBS were transferred to the GRG division. GRG told customers that its aim was to help to turnaround business clients in financial distress.

However, some businesses allege that transfer to GRG resulted in higher interest rates, fees and pressure to sell assets to reduce loans or a push towards an insolvency process.

The Financial Conduct Authority Report

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), commissioned a report into the actions of GRG and the treatment of its customers.  Although full findings of the report are yet to be published, the FCA provided a summary on 8 November 2016 and this identified that there were areas in which the “inappropriate treatment of SME customers by RBS” was “widespread.”  

One of the areas of inappropriate treatment is said to have arisen from the Bank’s “failure to handle the conflicts of interest” inherent between GRG and West Register, which was the property arm of RBS.

Criticism of the Proposals and Next Steps

An Action Group for customers of GRG called on the Bank to pay at least £2bn to affected businesses. The £400m set aside by the Bank is much lower and any former customer receiving an offer from RBS will need to consider if the offer is enough in the circumstances. 

It is imperative that the FCA publish the full findings of its report as a matter of urgency. Potential time-bar issues could arise and may frustrate a claim brought against RBS. 

Customers of GRG who are concerned that their claim against the Bank may become time-barred or who are made an offer by RBS should seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Schofield Sweeney’s Complex Financial & Tax Disputes Team has significant experience of claims against major Banks.

If you would like to discuss the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 0113 220 6270.