Friday, November 20, 2015

SIP 9 Guidance notes - a need for precision

In response to a query from a monitor on a client’s recent regulatory visit, we recently asked the regulators whether it was necessary to direct creditors to the date-specific versions of each set of SIP 9 guidance notes, or whether, to avoid errors and keep it simple for IPs and Creditors alike, you could just use the new guidance notes and a set of the old ones for pre-April 2010 cases. Our argument was based around the fact that the revised SIP 9 says that creditors should be directed to “suitable information about their rights” and that the latest guides, being principles based, would be suitable for most cases, in as much as creditors read them anyway.  

We have now heard from the regulators. They said “… it oughtn’t be too hard for IPs to link to (or send out) the set of guidance notes that apply to the case, based on the date of the appointment. Reporting / appointment notification templates could include links for the different sets of notes so that staff can delete those that don’t apply to the particular case. None of us would treat a genuine error in issuing the right version of the notes as a material issue on a monitoring visit.”

They also said “ it would be unhelpful to provide links to (say) the latest set of notes, and then to say that some provisions don’t apply to older cases; we didn’t think that statement alone would be sufficient and the amount of detail otherwise required to explain what did and didn’t apply would be disproportionate and potentially confusing for creditors.”

For the avoidance of any doubt, all of the guides are currently (correct at the time of writing, but check before inserting it in your documents) on the IPA website at the following link:

There is likely to be some marketing benefit in having them on your own site, and it will also help to make you aware when the relevant page gets moved, as you probably would not get told by the IPA if they shuffle their site around.

We are disappointed that the simpler approach was not adopted, but at the end of the day, our role is to guide you to do what the regulators want, not to be regulators. After failing to get them to see sense about Fee Estimate Templates and now the SIP 9 guidance notes this year, I am beginning to wonder whether it would be better for us to just keep quiet and let them get on with it!