Banking mediator (France)
A banking mediator is an independent person. He acts in contexts of disputes between a bank and one or more clients.
The development of banking mediation dates from the late twentieth century. It arose simultaneously with the insurance sector development. The development of consumerism and the sale of financial products, combined with the cost of legal actions, have led governments to intervene with financial institutions in view to force them to establish independent mediation systems. The purpose of this type of system is to accelerate the disputes resolution, to simplify the modalities of recourse and adjust the banks dominance regarding their clients in difficulties.
However the recourse to the banking mediator is in no way obligatory and cannot exclude the possibility of a judicial proceeding.
 Banking Mediation
Banking mediators have been established on December 12, 2002, following the Murcef law of December 11, 2001. Their interventions are on the charge of the banks, already remunerated by the clients.
Some banks have their own mediator, which is the case for the main banks of a network. Otherwise, the organization of banking mediation is managed by "consular" association like:
- la Fédération Bancaire Française, FBF (French Banking Federation)
- l'Association des Sociétés Financières, ASF (Financial Companies Association)
- l'Autorité des Marchés Financiers, AMF (Financial Markets Authority)
These organizations have made a mediation service available to banks which do not wish to have an appointed mediator.
In order to respect the principle of a free mediation service for the users, each bank or financial institution which is a member of the mediation service pays the fees related to mediation to the consular association. The amount of fees paid to the banking mediator is defined each year by the Comité Consultatif du Conseil National du Crédit (Advisory Committee of the National Council of Credit).
It can be noticed that the Post Office which is also a financial public establishment has complied with the Murcef law in 2005 by appointing its own mediator.
Mediation does not replace the devices of claims processing, but offers to the client a friendly action as the last resort before a possible legal proceeding.
The mediator is chosen according to his skills and impartiality. He is held by confidentiality and professional secrecy. He can suggests recommendations in order to try to resolve disputes between banks and clients in the areas of the account agreement, sales related and premium sales. Many banks have however decided to extend the scope of mediation to other types of claims.
 Banking and Financial Mediation of ASF (Financial Companies Association)
Service mediation of ASF is older than the Murcef law, since it dates from 1995. The mediation service has been established on a voluntary basis. This is a branch mediation established by financial firms: financing of equipment for individuals, real estate financing, Guarantee Company. In order to improve communication with the consumer organizations, they have participated in the establishment of the Mediation Charter, and still keep a consulting role to the Board of the ASF. The mediator of the AFS is appointed for a period of 2 years by the Board of the AFS and representatives of organizations of consumers.
The scope of the mediator is nevertheless limited to the private individual clients and to certain operations of credit. The mediator has a role similar to a mission of reconciliation; that explains the limited number of his interventions.
It can be noticed that ASF has an advisory activity with specialized financing agencies for companies: - Leasing - equipment financing - financing of commercial property (leasing ...) - factoring - guarantees.
Currently, no mediator has been appointed to act in such relations, the main mentioned reason is the scope of jurisdiction.
The mediator of ASF is free to appreciate if the case has been previously subject to a friendly solution research, and must contact the concerned establishment for each referral. His activity between 2003 and 2004 has increased by + 31% (source Study on Banking Mediation for the Comité Consultatif du Conseil National du Crédit -Advisory Committee of the National Council of Credit-, 2005) and his communication regarding his action has enabled to identify a concentration of disputes on some specific financial institutions. Finally, the mediator of the ASF organizes an annual meeting with financial institutions in order to discuss about the failures encountered in certain mediation. He publishes a report containing several proposals, such as an improved management and establishment of loans, better information...
 The Banking Mediator
A banking mediator, also called Ombudsman, based on the institutional model of parliamentary Ombudsmen, intervenes after failure of the two way of dialogue between the client and his bank: the responsible of the agency and then, the customer service of the bank.
Recourse to the mediator is free. No legal action should generally be initiated in view to seize the mediator. The mediator then has a relatively short period (2 months in France) to issue his recommendation, during which the prescription is suspended. However, if the disagreement persists at the end of mediation, the client or the banking institution remains free to initiate a legal proceeding.
The modalities of recourse to the mediator and his contact details appear on the account statements sent to the customers, as well as on the account agreements.