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Public Policy Suggestions: Financial Dispute Resolution Systems Design

Findings from a recently completed research project funded under the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Public Policy Scheme (HKU7001-PPR-10) which involved a multi-jurisdictional empirical study about the development and design of these mechanisms in East Asia, North America and Europe have been concluded. Using a comparative methodology and drawing on empirical findings from a multi-jurisdictional survey, the research examines the emergence of global principles that influence the design of financial dispute resolution models, considers the structural variations between the ombuds and arbitration systems and offers practical proposals for reform.

Among the suggested recommendations include the following:

1. Evaluating the efficacy of systems of financial dispute resolution on the basis of principles of fairness, impartiality, transparency and consistency.

2. Further examining the beneficial checks and balances for consumers that are incorporated into the financial ombudsman model designed in the UK and Australia.

3. Improving accessibility of systems of financial adr via the expansion of eligible complainants beyond individuals and scaling the charges for different types of user;

4. Development of early stage dispute resolution aimed at narrowing down the factual disputes and issues between the parties in order to enhance the efficiency of later stages; and

5. Increasing the limit on awards as well as the claim amount to further enhance accessibility Other ideas include improving efficiency through the possible adoption of a test case mechanism, frequent meetings of staff to share experiences and views on claims and claim-handling.

The need to bridge the knowledge gap for consumers again speaks to a principle of fairness by ensuring a level playing field in terms of information―particularly about the true value of claims, as the Minibonds crisis in Hong Kong served to demonstrate.

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