FAQ

Upon receipt of your Complaint Submission Form and supporting documents, which includes a Consent and Confidentiality Agreement, ADRBO will conduct an initial review to determine if your complaint falls within its mandate and whether a full investigation is warranted. If it not within ADRBO’s mandate to investigate, or if ADRBO decides that it is highly unlikely that an investigation would yield a different result than the bank’s position, a full investigation will not be undertaken, and you will be advised of this decision within 30 days of ADRBO obtaining all of the information required to make the decision. If your file is assigned for investigation, you will be notified and subsequently contacted by the investigator.

Yes, the investigation process is private and confidential, and the information you provide will not be disclosed publicly (subject to specific exceptions set out in the Consent and Confidentiality Agreement). Each complainant and the bank concerned will have the opportunity to disclose information and documents to the investigator, which will be confidential as between all involved. Any information provided may be disclosed to the other party to the complaint, unless we are advised not to. However, if ADRBO is advised that certain information may not be disclosed to the other party, that information cannot be considered by the investigator in reaching his/her recommendation.

ADRBO strives to ensure that all investigations are conducted in an objective, impartial, fair, and thorough manners, while respecting the rights and time constraints of the individuals involved.

  • The investigator will be familiar with, and honour, privacy rules and legislation;
  • The investigator will be guided by rules of procedural fairness;
  • The investigator may look for opportunities to promote a mutually-agreeable resolution of the complaint;
  • The investigator will identify the people to be interviewed, and determine what documentary information needs to be supplied to the investigator;
  • The investigator will obtain the necessary consents to conduct the investigation;
  • The investigator will review documents and contact the parties by phone (unless a better method is suggested) to get a preliminary understanding of the complaint;
  • The investigator will organize documents and other evidence in a methodical manner;
  • Interviews are conducted as soon as possible after it is determined that an investigation is necessary;
  • Interviews may be conducted by phone, email or in person, as appropriate;
  • People being interviewed will be provided with a description of the complaints process with sufficient detail to make the interview meaningful and its purposes clear;
  • Confidentiality issues are discussed with interviewees to determine what information may or may not be disclosed to others;
  • The investigator will attempt to gather information about the background leading to the complaint, the actions that occurred that led to the complaint, and any efforts to remedy the conduct complained of;
  • The investigator will use a combination of questioning techniques to obtain information;
  • The investigator will assess the credibility of the people being interviewed. Where there is contradictory evidence, this will be noted in the report and the investigator will fill in gaps to the extent possible;
  • Where there is conflicting evidence, the investigator’s report will contain the investigator’s opinion of the facts, based on the evidence obtained and an assessment of the credibility of the interviewees;
  • The investigator will solicit expert or technical advice, where appropriate;
  • The investigation report will set out the allegations, the relevant evidence, and an analysis of the evidence;
  • The investigator’s report will also contain conclusions, either rejecting the complaint on its merits or making specific recommendations;
  • Before producing a final report, a draft report will be provided to both parties to allow them to identify any inaccuracies in the report and respond if they so choose;
  • The final report will be issued within 120 days of ADRBO’s receipt of all the information necessary to make the recommendation
  • Please refer to our full Terms of Reference (Download PDF)and our “How The ADRBO Process Works” guide for more information.

Yes, the report may make recommendations, though they are non-binding.

If the bank refuses to follow the investigator’s recommendations, the investigator’s report, including the recommendations, will be posted on the ADRBO website. Any information in the report that would allow people to be identified will be removed to protect their privacy.

There may be time limits within which you must commence a lawsuit or lose your right to sue. These “limitation periods” may vary by issue and province. While participating in the ADRBO process does not automatically stop these limitation periods from running or extend them, the member banks have undertaken to suspend, to the extent permitted by law, the running of any applicable limitation period during the period of time a complaint is under review by ADRBO. This suspension shall begin at the time the bank receives a signed copy of the ADRBO Consent and Confidentiality Agreement, and ends 30 days after ADRBO either transmits its final report to the complainant, or closes the file for any other reason. ADRBO does not provide any legal or other advice with respect to limitation periods, and recommends that you seek the advice of a lawyer on this issue.

ADRBO maintains a website available to the general public that allows visitors to view our annual report containing statistics and other general information regarding complaints processed during the year (all identifying information is removed to protect the confidentiality of complainants involved). The website also posts any investigators’ recommendations that have not been followed by the banks.

ADRBO is administered by its senior management and staff. The Ombuds is Britt, the Deputy Ombuds is Peter, the Ombuds Officer is Kayla and the two Bilingual Intake Coordinators are Susan and Diane. A Board of Directors oversees management of the ADRBO, and ensures compliance with regulatory responsibilities.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Industry professionals have underscored that the most telling way to test independence is by the seniority and experience of the people doing the investigations and whether these individuals are providing fair and independent decisions. ADRC has been in business for over 26 years, having facilitated over 55,000 mediations and arbitrations.
Our strong track record of independence is a big reason for our success over the past two decades. We are trusted to provide Integrity Commissioner and Ombudsman services for many municipalities throughout Ontario. ADR Chambers provides services to multiple industries and is not dependent upon, tied to, or governed by any of the industry professionals it serves. ADRC receives less than 3.5% of its revenue from Ombudsman services for banking customers (based on an average over the last five years). In no year were the banks (in the aggregate) close to being the largest client of ADRC.

Over the years, we have developed an excellent roster of highly skilled investigators, many of whom are senior lawyers and judges, and all are experienced investigators.
Our investigators are independent contractors who are committed to ADR Chambers mediation and arbitration standards along with their own individual professional code of ethics. We ensure against organizational bias in decision making by maintaining the professional individual independence of our investigators. This independence has been found to be a crucial factor to the fairness and impartiality of the decision maker by industry professionals.

Consumers are protected by ADRC’s same commitment to independence and impartiality which currently serves many of Ontario’s municipalities through Ombudsman and Integrity Commissioner services.
ADRBO encourages accountability and consumer confidence by publicly listing all of its investigators and their credentials. ADRC has been in business since 1994 and we take very seriously our reputation as an organization with an associated roster of fair, neutral dispute resolution professionals.

As an organization built on ADR principles we value mediation and settlement as a means to preserve the relationship between the parties, maintain a high level of satisfaction for both parties, and allow both parties to maintain control over the outcome.

There isn’t really a difference in principle. We are both regulated by the FCAC and were recognized as an External Complaints Body on the same date, June 6th, 2015. We both serve the public good by providing independent, impartial ombudsman services and ensure the interests of citizens and consumers are protected. We also have similar ratios of recommendations finding in favour of consumers.

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