Intermediaries who adhere to the ABF
Who must adhere to the ADR system
Pursuant to the rules governing the Financial and Banking Ombudsman, all Italian and foreign intermediaries who are entered in the registers and lists kept by the Bank of Italy or subject to the regulations of this sector must adhere to the system and may receive complaints.
In particular, the following intermediaries must adhere:
- financial intermediaries entered in the register pursuant to Article 106 of the Consolidated Law on Banking (known as the 'Albo Unico')
- loan guarantee consortia, pursuant to Article 112(1) of the Consolidated Law on Banking,
- payment institutions
- electronic money institutions
- Poste Italiane SpA as regards its BancoPosta activity.
Foreign banks and intermediaries that operate in Italy under the freedom to provide services are not required to adhere to the ABF, provided that they adhere to, or are subject to, a foreign out-of-court settlement system which is part of Fin-Net. In this case, the client may still contact the ABF which, in turn, will put them in contact with the equivalent ADR of the country in which the intermediary operates.
Intermediaries operating in Italy under the freedom to provide services which choose not to adhere to the ABF are required to communicate to the Bank of Italy the foreign out-of-court settlement system to which they adhere or are subject in their home country.
Communications concerning adhesion
Intermediaries - using the form available in this section - must formally communicate their adhesion to the ABF to the Bank of Italy; they must provide basic identification data and the information necessary for the ADR system to function.
The form must also be used each time the information which was previously provided is subject to a change.
Handling disputes and ABF guidelines
Banks and financial intermediaries must ensure, by adopting specific internal procedures, that their claims departments are aware of the guidelines established by the ABF, are constantly updated on them, and analyse disputes on the basis of such guidelines. In particular, the claims departments must ascertain whether the issue raised by the client is similar to others already decided upon by the ABF Panels, and consider the solutions adopted in such cases.
Guides and complaint forms
Intermediaries must make the practical guides on the ABF (the 'Guide on how to use the Web Portal' and 'A simple guide to the ABF') and the complaint form available to clients, in compliance with the model provided on this website (available only in Italian).
What intermediaries have to do when the ABF upholds complaints
If the complaint is upheld, wholly or partly, the intermediary must:
- reimburse the complainant for the €20 fee paid for filing the complaint, except in the cases provided for by the ABF Provisions;
- pay €200 to the Bank of Italy, as a contribution to the costs of the procedure by means of a credit transfer to the branch of the Bank of Italy where the Panel that decided the complaint meets.
There are cases in which the amount to be paid to the Bank of Italy by the intermediary can be reduced or increased. Specifically:
- if, following the Chair's decision to wholly uphold the claim, the intermediary requests its submission to the Territorial Panel and the latter accepts the appeal, confirming the solution adopted in the Chair's decision, the amount to be paid is increased to €400;
- if, following the Chair's proposal for an early resolution of the dispute on an agreed basis, the Panel ascertains that the complainant alone has not expressed a willingness to accept such a proposal, and the Panel's decision upholds the complaint substantially according to the terms of the Chair’s proposal, the amount to be paid is reduced to €100;
- if, following the Chairman's proposal for an early resolution of the dispute on an agreed basis, the Panel ascertains that the intermediary alone has not expressed a willingness to accept such a proposal, and the Panel’s decision upholds the complaint substantially according to the terms of the Chair’s proposal, the amount to be paid is increased to €400.
The bank account details will be provided each time by the competent technical secretariat in the letter that also communicates the decision.
The decisions of the Ombudsman are not legally binding; if an intermediary refuses to comply with a decision made by the ABF, its non-compliance is published on the ABF's website for five years (see the section 'Non-Compliant Intermediaries') and highlighted on the homepage of the intermediary's website for six months, even if the intermediary is part of a group.