On the 12 July 2018 the Financial Ombudsman Service (the FOS) published a report on an Independent Review carried out by Richard Lloyd (former Which? executive).
The review was undertaken following the broadcast of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme which set out a number of concerns about the handling of FOS complaints.
The FOS has received considerable press attention over the last 12 months. In March 2018, the Channel 4 programme Dispatches aired setting out a number of issues with the handling of complaints by the FOS and how it organises its employees. Following this an independent review was commissioned to investigate the issues raised and suggest areas where improvements could be made. Richard Lloyd's findings are grouped into four broad themes (1) service quality, (2) organisational issues, (3) finances and (4) governance.
It is clear the FOS has been under increasing pressure and this is only likely to grow as it is required to balance the demand for complaints to be dealt with quickly and efficiently against the need to ensure all the information is considered and decisions are fair and reasoned. The review highlights a number of key areas where the FOS needs to take action to retain public confidence and improve its services.
The FOS offers an important alternative to litigation. As the discussions continue about expanding the remit of the FOS (including APP fraud and access for SMEs), it will be important for consideration to be given to the FOS' ability to deal with the complexity and volume of cases to ensure that complaints are dealt with fairly between firms and consumers. It is expected that there will inevitably be a greater cost to firms as further resource is required.
For further information please contact Richard Hayllar (Partner), Warren Clark (Partner) or Alanna Tregear (Associate).
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