Insolvency complaints under the spotlight
The Insolvency Service review of complaints handling by RPBs in relation to insolvency practitioners has concluded that RPBs operate appropriate procedures, although a small number of recommendations for improvement and consistency have been made.
The Insolvency Service have published a report following their review of complaints handling about insolvency practitioners, concluding that each of the RPBs has appropriate procedures in place for dealing with complaints, although some potential areas for improvement were identified.
This review considered the progress and outcomes of complaints made since the introduction of the Complaints Gateway in June 2013, the reasons for any delays in complaint progression or resolution, and the level of consistency in disciplinary outcomes under Common Sanctions Guidance.
Two recommendations for improvements were made to better ensure fair, consistent and transparent outcomes to complaints:
- All RPBs should ensure that information is sought from the insolvency practitioner in respect of complaints received unless there is a justified reason not to do so.
- Those RPBs experiencing particular issues in progressing cases to discuss with the Insolvency Service their plans for ensuring timely progression of complaints.
The Insolvency Service acknowledged in their report that not all RPBs would have to make changes to implement the recommendations.
Robert Mudge, ICAS Head of Investigations, said:
“A robust, transparent and fair process to investigate complaints against insolvency practitioners is central to ensuring public trust in the services which insolvency practitioners provide.
ICAS’ investigation processes already incorporate the measures being recommended which contributed to the Insolvency Service’s ‘all green’ assessment (indicating strong controls) in relation to our regulation of insolvency practitioners reported last year.”
The Insolvency Service also made a recommendation that further discussions with the RPBs should take place to consider the feasibility of a mechanism whereby compensation can be paid to the complainant by the insolvency practitioner where they have suffered inconvenience, loss or distress as a result of their actions. This is a suggestion which has been raised previously by the Insolvency Service, with the RPBs expressing strong concerns that it would mark a major change of approach in investigations, leading to a number of significant practical challenges.
The review also found that the introduction of Common Sanctions Guidance has improved transparency in decision-making but there is scope to ensure more consistency in the application of the guidance. The RPBs and the Insolvency Service have been working to make changes to the guidance. The revised guidance will be issued once a final agreement is reached.