Terms of Reference

Purpose:
  1. Scotiabank's Ombudsman (the “Ombudsman”) provides an impartial and internal final review of unresolved complaints made by Scotiabank customers. Scotiabank, for the purpose of these Terms of Reference, includes The Bank of Nova Scotia and its domestic subsidiaries.
  2. These Terms of Reference describe the principal powers and duties of the Ombudsman, the scope of their mandate and the process for investigating unresolved complaints.
Powers & Duties:

1.    The Ombudsman will conduct an impartial review and act as non-binding arbiter of unresolved customer complaints and will facilitate a fair resolution for the customer and Scotiabank. The Ombudsman will:
                 a. act within these Terms of Reference;
                 b. determine which complaints fall within their mandate;
                 c. review unresolved complaints with a view to facilitate a fair resolution;
                 d. make recommendations to the customer and Scotiabank to resolve complaint or reject complaints on their merits; and
                 e. not provide legal, accounting, tax, investment or other similar professional advice.

2.    The Ombudsman may delegate to their Assistant Ombudsmen the power to review unresolved complaints, reject complaints and make recommendations for resolution of complaints.

3.    The Ombudsman will report any threat to staff and/or property to the appropriate area within Scotiabank.

Mandate:
  1. The Ombudsman will review unresolved complaints so long as:
            a.  the customer made a complaint in accordance with Scotiabank’s established complaint handling process and Scotiabank has completed its investigation of the complaint in accordance with its established complaint handling process;
            b. 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;
            c.  the Ombudsman is satisfied that the complaint relates materially to Scotiabank operations in Canada; and
            d.  the complaint is being pursued reasonably and not in a frivolous, vexatious or threatening manner.

  2. The Ombudsman does not:
            a.  review complaints about matters of general policy (such as interest rates, service fees or account closures). The Ombudsman may, however, review such complaints to determine whether proper procedures were followed;
            b. reverse or alter credit decisions. The Ombudsman may, however, review such complaints to determine whether proper procedures were followed by Scotiabank in making credit decisions;
            c.  review 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; and
            d. review complaints related to transactions for which records no longer exist (usually no more than seven years and sometimes less).
Process:

1. The Ombudsman requires all complaints to be submitted in writing (by mail, e-mail or facsimile message).

2. The Ombudsman will determine if the complaint falls within their mandate. The Ombudsman also has discretion not to investigate a specific matter. If the Ombudsman determines that the complaint does not fall within their mandate or exercises their discretion not to investigate, the Ombudsman or their 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 their 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 they see fit. The Ombudsman requires the customer and Scotiabank to cooperate with the investigation and may require the customer as well as Scotiabank and its complaint-handling units to provide any or all relevant documentation and information.

6. The investigation will be conducted based upon the documentation, information and other evidence provided by the customer and Scotiabank 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 their staff may attempt to facilitate 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, which shall include a confidentiality clause. 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 their office or by any predecessor in that office.

10. The final response will be sent to the customer by the Ombudsman or their staff in writing, but a facilitated settlement may be conducted using other media (such as telephone).

11. The final response letter will include the contact information for the appropriate external complaints body which is the next step in the established complaint escalation process; either ADR Chambers Banking Ombudsman (ADRBO) or the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI).

12. Should the Ombudsman identify any Scotiabank products or policies that led to the complaint, they 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 maintain a webpage on the Scotiabank website that will include current contact information for the Office of the Ombudsman, these Terms of Reference and an Annual Reports that sets out the number and nature of complaints dealt with by the Ombudsman. 

Confidentiality:
  1. Confidentiality of the Ombudsman process is an important and long-standing principle. Confidentiality of the process helps to ensure the Ombudsman’s impartiality and facilitates cooperation throughout the investigation.
  2. By submitting a complaint to the Ombudsman, the customer agrees to allow the Ombudsman and their staff to share or discuss any personal, financial and confidential information provided to the Ombudsman, including a copy (or the details) of the complaint, with employees of Scotiabank and with any other individuals or companies who can assist with, are involved in or affected by the complaint, for the purpose of investigating the complaint.  The Ombudsman and their staff may also request information from the parties.
  3. During the course of a review, 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. The Scotiabank Ombuds process is a confidential, without prejudice and privileged voluntary process. Any statements made by the participating parties (including the customer and the Ombudsman or their staff), as well as any correspondence, notes and/or other documents created in the course of this process, including the Ombudsman file, are confidential, without prejudice and privileged (“Ombuds Records”). This means that any communications between the customer and the Ombudsman’s Office may not be shared by the customer with any third party (except a professional advisor such as a lawyer or accountant). Furthermore, this also means that the customer cannot compel the production of, seek access to, rely on, disclose, refer to or introduce the Ombuds Records into evidence in any legal or other proceeding.  This also means that the Ombudsman, and any employees in the Ombudsman’s Office, cannot be compelled to give evidence in or participate in any legal or other proceedings.
  5. As outlined above, the Ombudsman or their staff may share or discuss personal, financial and confidential information provided to the Ombudsman, including a copy (or the details) of the complaint, with employees of Scotiabank, and with any other individuals or companies who can assist with, are involved in or affected by the complaint, for the purpose of investigating the complaint.  The Ombudsman and their staff may also request information from the parties.  In doing so, the files of the Ombudsman remain confidential and protected by privilege and this protection is not waived.