Financial Ombudsman Service Under Review

Following our previous report on the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary showing a behind the scenes look at the workings, and failings, of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), a formal review is set to take place.

Following a call from MPs on the Treasury Select Committee (TSC), the Chief Ombudsman, Caroline Wayman, has agreed to an independent review of past and present cases. The Financial Times has noted that TSC Chair, Nicky Morgan, had made clear that “the review should not be restricted to the issues raised by the Dispatches programme and that the review must have unrestricted access to all documents and staff, as well as having enough flexibility to identify the root causes of any failings it finds”.

It is understood that the FOS has also been asked to suspend all routine document disposal in order to preserve the current state of records to assist in the review of more historic cases. Of particular note is the potential for cases that have already had a final decision issued to be considered again where evidence of improper handling is found.

The FOS, whose purpose is to review and mediate on complaints that have not been successfully resolved between banks and consumers, relies on its perception as being impartial, a view that is likely to have been somewhat tarnished already by the documentary. The key revelations had included suggestions that cases were found in favour of banks as it enable cases to be closed quicker and that staff were generally inexperienced and untrained.

The agreement comes weeks after FOS attempted to carry out the review itself in-house. As reported by the Telegraph at the time, in the aftermath of the documentary FOS offered to carry out its own review overseen by its non-executive board to put the public’s mind at ease. This was quickly shot down with consumer campaigner James Daley quoted as claiming the board had been “implicated” in any wrongdoing by the fact it had “happened on their watch”.

Anyone that believes they have been affected by any of the above issues is urged to get in touch. At Seneca Banking Consultants we are at the forefront of the industry and specialise in seeking redress for clients who have been disadvantaged by the conduct of their bank.