Terms of Reference

Purpose:

  1. Scotiabank's Ombudsman provides an independent, impartial final review of unresolved complaints made by Scotiabank customers.
  2. These terms of reference describe the principal powers and duties of the Ombudsman, the scope of the Ombudsman’s mandate and the process for investigating and resolving complaints.

Powers & Duties:

  1. The Ombudsman will act as an independent and impartial investigator and non-binding arbiter of customer complaints and will not act as an advocate for either the customer or Scotiabank. The Ombudsman will:
    1. act within these terms of reference;
    2. determine which complaints fall within his/her mandate;
    3. investigate complaints with a view to achieving a resolution that is fair to both parties;
    4. make recommendations to the customer and the Bank to resolve complaints or reject complaints on their merits;
    5. not provide legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice.
  2. The Ombudsman may delegate to his/her Assistant Ombudsmen the power to investigate complaints, reject complaints and make recommendations for resolution of complaints.
  3. The Ombudsman will report any threat to staff or property to the appropriate area of Scotiabank’s business.

Mandate:

  1. The Ombudsman will investigate complaints made against Scotiabank so long as:
    1. the customer made a complaint in accordance with the Bank’s established complaint handling process and the Bank has completed its investigation of the complaint in accordance with its established complaint handling process;
    2. the Ombudsman receives a signed Consent Agreement whereby the customer acknowledges understanding the process to be followed and agrees to maintain the confidentiality of the Ombudsman’s files and all correspondence;
    3. the Ombudsman is satisfied that the complaint relates materially to Scotiabank operations in Canada;
    4. the complaint is being pursued reasonably and not in a frivolous, vexatious or threatening manner.
  2. The Ombudsman does not:
    1. investigate complaints about matters of general policy (such as interest rates, service fees or account closures). The Ombudsman may, however, investigate such complaints to determine whether proper procedures were followed;
    2. reverse or alter credit decisions. The Ombudsman may, however, investigate such complaints to determine whether proper procedures were followed by the Bank in making credit decisions;
    3. investigate matters that are in litigation, are being handled by lawyers on behalf of the firm or have already been decided by the courts or administrative tribunals;
    4. investigate complaints related to transactions for which records no longer exist (usually no more than six years and sometimes less).

Process:

  1. The Ombudsman requires all complaints to be submitted in writing.
  2. The Ombudsman will determine if the complaint falls within his/her mandate. The Ombudsman also has discretion not to investigate a specific matter. If the Ombudsman determines that the complaint does not fall within his/her mandate or exercises his/her discretion not to investigate, the Ombudsman or his/her staff will send a letter to the customer to explain the decision.
  3. Following the initial review of the complaint, the Ombudsman may recommend that the complaint may be more appropriately dealt with by another venue such as arbitration or the courts.
  4. Following the initial review of a complaint, if the Ombudsman or his/her staff determine that the complaint will be investigated, a Consent Agreement is sent to the customer to sign and return. Once the Ombudsman's Office receives the customer’s signed Consent Agreement, the file is assigned to an Assistant Ombudsman for investigation.
  5. The Ombudsman has complete control over the conduct and procedure of the investigation, including the calling of any person or viewing of any documents and information he/she sees fit. The Ombudsman requires the customer and the Bank to cooperate with the investigation and may require the customer as well as the Bank and its complaint-handling units to provide any or all relevant documentation and information.
  6. The investigation will be conducted based upon the documentation and other evidence provided by the customer and the Bank and may include interviews with both parties and/or others. The Ombudsman may also consult experts or consultants as may be required to assist with the investigation of complaints.
  7. At any time during the process, the Ombudsman or his/her staff may attempt to negotiate or mediate a mutually agreeable resolution or make a recommendation for settlement of the complaint. If an offer is to be made to the customer, the Ombudsman will send a letter that explains the reasons for the offer and provide the customer with a reasonable amount of time to accept or reject it. If the customer accepts the offer, the Ombudsman will require the customer to sign a full and final release. Once the signed release is received, the Ombudsman will make the necessary arrangements to facilitate any payment or other resolution agreed upon.
  8. If the Ombudsman determines that compensation or other resolution is not warranted, a final written response will be sent to the customer outlining the reasons for the decline of the customer’s request.
  9. The Ombudsman shall not be bound by any previous recommendation made by his/her office or by any predecessor in that office.
  10. The final response will be sent to the customer by the Ombudsman or his/her staff in writing, but negotiation and mediation may be conducted using other media (such as telephone and e-mail).
  11. The final response letter will include the contact information for the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) which would be the next step in the established complaint escalation process, should the customer choose to take that step.
  12. Should the Ombudsman identify any Scotiabank products or policies that led to the complaint, he/she may raise a systemic issue with the appropriate business line and may follow up to ensure an appropriate change has been made to prevent similar complaints in future.
  13. The Ombudsman will produce a quarterly Executive Summary and an annual report to the Audit and Conduct Review Committee of Scotiabank’s Board of Directors.
  14. The Ombudsman will maintain a webpage on the Scotiabank website that will include current contact information for the Office of the Ombudsman, the Terms of Reference and Annual Reports.

Confidentiality:

  1. Confidentiality of the Ombudsman process is an important and long-standing principle. Confidentiality of the process helps to ensure the Ombudsman’s independence and facilitates cooperation throughout the investigation. By maintaining a process that ensures confidentiality for both parties, the Ombudsman can promote open and honest dialogue.
  2. By submitting a complaint to the Ombudsman, the customer agrees to allow the Ombudsman and his/her staff to discuss the complaint with the executive/area of business at Scotiabank, as well as experts or consultants as required to assist the Ombudsman with the investigation and resolution of complaints.
  3. In the course of an investigation, while all official documents will be shared freely with both parties, items of a proprietary nature (such as personal notes) will be made available to the Ombudsman but will not be shared with other parties.
  4. Not only is all correspondence between customers and the Ombudsman to be kept confidential by both parties, the files of the Ombudsman are confidential and are protected from disclosure for all purposes unless mandated by law. In addition, neither the Ombudsman nor his/her staff will be called to testify in any subsequent legal or other proceeding, or to provide documents into the public record.