Two-speed justice


Why are banks more sympathetic to criminals than they are to law-abiding customers? In case that sounds too harsh; I’ll explain what I mean:

Let’s imagine some fraudsters acting against a bank or its customers. In the unlikely event of them being apprehended, they would have a list of rights to protect their interests. For instance: they would be able to check and sign any statements that they might make; they would be provided with legal representation; they would be present at their trial.

All this is as it should be. An accused person remains innocent until proven guilty.

On the other hand, if you were to be injured by your relationship with your bank, you would have no such rights. It would make no difference how you were injured. You might have been a victim of fraud, whether or not you were reimbursed. You might have been forced to take out insurance that you didn’t need or could never  claim on. You might have been bankrupted by a ‘low risk’ investment. You might have had your family business stolen by the bank.

In all cases you will be treated in the same way. You will be kept at arms length. Decisions about your case will be made in your absence. There will be no face-to-face meetings over tea and biscuits to discuss the problem. You will have no idea what information is being presented at meetings called to deliberate on your predicament. You will not be able to approve whatever is being said in your name. You will not be present at your trial.

If you have a couple of million pounds to spend, and a barrister who is brave enough to take on the banking establishment, you can have representation. Otherwise, you’re on your own.

You may be expected to give a ‘statement’ over the ‘phone whilst in a state of distress because your finances have just been ruined. You will not be sent a copy to check and sign. You may have to discuss your problem in public in branch, because no-one can be bothered to invite you into a private room. These human contacts, inadequate as they are, will be rare. Most submissions will have to be by letter or email, which may or may not be acknowledged.

Rapists and murderers are shown more consideration.

At the end of the process, the bank will issue a ruling. You will be able to appeal against it, but the appeal will be heard by the same bank that made the original decision. What odds will you give that it will overturn it?

If you qualify, you might be able to turn to the Financial Ombudsman Service, and ask it to help you. Try, by all means, but don’t hold your breath.

So we have to acknowledge this unpleasant truth: rights that are taken as fundamental for malefactors are far beyond the reach of the victims of a bank’s incompetence or malice. I’ll leave you to work out why that might be.


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3 thoughts on “Two-speed justice

    1. banxbane Post author

      Thanks, Caroline. You’ve shown in your second comment how we mere mortals, unlike bankers, try to correct our mistakes! Perhaps it was Freudian: there are plenty of tears shed by bankers’ victims.


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