It was felt in the late 1990s as part of the overall enhanced regulatory framework for the financial services sector including the establishment of the Financial Regulator that a statutory Ombudsman scheme for all providers of financial services with statutory powers was necessary-the McDowell report of 1999.
This is now the position and is enshrined in legislation-the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2004-section 16 and schedules 6 and 7.
The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial services providers that have not been resolved by the providers.
The Ombudsman is therefore the arbiter of unresolved disputes and is impartial.
It is a free service to the complainant. Broader issues of consumer protection are the responsibility of the Irish Financial Regulator.
The Financial Services Ombudsman's Bureau is the corporate entity of the new statutory scheme and consists of the Financial Services Ombudsman and the staff.
It is a statutory body funded by levies from the financial services providers and became operational on 1 April 2005.
The existing voluntary ombudsman schemes for credit institutions and insurance schemes were subsumed into it and the number of financial service providers covered by its remit was expanded considerably.