Later updates lower down 02/11/2018
A freedom of information (FOI) request on the excellent “What do they know” website points out that FOS FAQs say that an ombudsman’s decision is final, whereas in a recent court case the Judge said:
“But I consider that Mr Strachan QC, on behalf of FOS, was right in his submission that the power to reconsider a complaint is part and parcel of FOS’s duty to consider a complaint that has been properly brought before it.” (my italics).
So there is an obvious difference between the FAQs and the FOS’s own QC !
The FOI questioner ask for “all relevant documents which address the issue of the finality of the FOS final decision” but he/she clearly has little hope that FOS will give a proper answer. I tend to agree.
Well…the 20 days allowed for FOS to respond have passed without an answer. After a prompt from the questioner, FOS say they will “aim” to respond by the end of the week…2 days to go then ! Watch this space.
FOS are unable to answer this question by the revised date they promised, but now say they “hope” to be able to send it early next week. The questioner has now asked for an internal review so I suspect FOS will delay their answer until the review is published.
Its an important issue. It’s not just a matter of the FAQs being wrong, for years FOS have said that the ombudsman’s decision is final, and they very rarely re-open a case. If the Judge and QC are correct this could be about to change.
Well…I was wrong about FOS delaying their reply to coincide with the internal review. In fact they have not even acknowledged that an internal review has been requested. FOS replied on 28/09/18 but gave very little detail requested by the questioner, merely giving FOS process procedures and mantra which could have been provided weeks ago.
“As part of the second and final stage of our process, our ombudsmen look at complaints afresh and
carefully weigh up the evidence before reaching decisions based on what they think is fair and reasonable. A final decision can be challenged by way of a claim for judicial review.”
The reply encourages the questioner to read the court decision in full, and declines to give more information because it would be too costly, a standard let out to avoid answering FOI questions.
The questioner had dismissed the reply, asked for information up to the cost limit to be provided (which seems reasonable and keeps costs within the permitted figure of £450 for 18 hours work) and makes a further request for an internal review. We shall see !
FOS finally agree to carry out an internal review
FOS said they would publish their internal review by no later than 26 Oct. Nothing forthcoming so the questioner is passing the matter to the Information Commissioner.
3 working days later, FOS send their review, which does provide some response to the original question. It seems that where legal proceedings are taking place or contemplated it may be possible to have a case examined by a different ombudsman. The FOS says this
“However, in the event of a legal challenge to a final decision, if the judge decides in the claimant’s favour he may quash the decision and remit it back to the financial ombudsman service for re-determination by a different ombudsman.
Alternatively, in rare circumstances – such as where a legal challenge is contemplated – the ombudsman service might obtain the consent of both the parties to reconsider the complaint. The complaint may then be decided afresh by a different ombudsman.”