FSA and FOS to implement updated complaint procedures

Clive Briault, Managing Director Retail Markets at the FSA, said: “The new arrangements clarify the different roles and responsibilities of the FSA and the ombudsman service when 'wider implications' issues arise; improve the identification and handling process for such cases at both the FSA and the ombudsman service; enhance co-operation on cases between the two agencies; and improve the overall transparency of the process.

"We consulted on these changes last year in the context of the two year review of the Financial Services and Markets Act. They are a significant step forward, and they received wide support from the industry and other stakeholders."

Walter Merricks, Financial Ombudsman Service chief ombudsman, said:

"The wider implications procedures are now in place and working well in practice. The FSA and the ombudsman service have already introduced effective arrangements for improved co-ordination. Feedback has shown that both industry and consumer bodies want as much transparency as possible about the wider implications process and the new proposed rules will clarify and formalise the procedure, including providing for input from relevant stakeholders."

Under the new procedures the FSA and the ombudsman service will have nominated individuals within both organisations who will act as contact points for ‘wider implications’ cases and be responsible for communication, liaison and co-ordination. They will be available to receive recommendations from firms, trade bodies and consumer bodies, and liaise between the FSA and the ombudsman service in order to ensure that the referral process and any feedback is administered efficiently.

To provide greater transparency the publication describes four recent cases (two where the FSA became involved and two where it decided not to) – to illustrate how the new processes might work in future and likely outcomes.

Last year’s Consultation Paper on ‘wider implications’ (CP 04/12) looked at the legal and practical issues involved in introducing an external appeals system that would operate after an Ombudsman decision. The majority of respondents, including larger firms and consumer bodies, were opposed to a formal appeals mechanism. The ombudsman service procedures already involve at least two stages, affording an appeal by either party from an adjudicator to an ombudsman, and an ombudsman’s decision is subject to judicial review by the courts. Consequently the FSA and the ombudsman service do not propose to recommend to the Government to bring in legislation to introduce an external appeals mechanism.