John Gummer, ex Conservative minister and now in the House of Lords as Baron Deben has made a call for a reform of the Financial Ombudsman service, saying it was “unacceptable” that the ombudsman system did not sit under the rule of the law and calling for appeals to have to be considered by a judge not the FOS itself.
The absence of proper “legal” decisions has been a long standing criticism of FOS. Currently there is no independent appeal available for either party if they wish to have a decision re-considered. FOS say that an adjudicator’s view can be appealed by passing it to an ombudsman, but this is not independent. As FOS themselves point out in their own Annual Review:
“Because of the way ombudsmen share knowledge with adjudicators – and because our approach is well-established in most areas – it’s unusual for an ombudsman to reach different conclusions to the adjudicator who initially looked at a complaint. In 92% of final decisions this year, the ombudsman didn’t recommend anything different to the adjudicator. Where they did, it was usually because new facts or evidence came to light only after the adjudicator had given their answer.”
Anthony Speaight QC has made an excoriating speech on this subject and barrister Peter Hamilton has suggested a system keeping the adjudicators and doing without the ombudsmen !
John Gummers speech reported in Professional Adviser
Read Peter Hamilton’s article
Read Anthony Speaight QC’s critical article Anthony Speaight’s speech in 2011 (old now, but mostly still relevant)