ABI: Fos should consult before issuing common guidance
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In focus: Arch Cru
The Association of British Insurers has called for the Financial Ombudsman Service to consult with key stakeholders before issuing guidance on its procedures and approach to handling common categories of cases.
While the ABI admits that the Fos does not set precedents as such, it pointed out that the Fos does publish technical notes which can set a precedent in areas of broader mis-selling, such as in cases such as Keydata or Arch Cru.
James King, ABI assistant director and head of retail conduct, emphasised that although the ABI supports the Fos’s work as a “valuable independent resolution service” for consumers, the association believes its accountability could be strengthened.
He said: “For example, the Financial Ombudsman Service could consult with key industry and consumer stakeholders before issuing guidance or background notes on its approach to handling complaints on particular products.
“This would help improve the quality of its guidance and ensure its compatibility with regulation.”
A spokesperson for the Fos said: “The information we already publish, such as our online technical resource, sets out the general approach the ombudsman already takes to typical areas of complaint, based on our past decisions – where both parties had the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence.”
In January, the Financial Ombudsman Service said it will press ahead with plans to include the names of firms when it publishes the decisions of ombudsman, following a mixed response to the issue from financial businesses.
In its summary of responses to its consultation paper, published in September 2011, Fos said that the issue generated “the most debate”, with “many, but not all business” expressing concern that including names in decisions could have negative consequences.
Two predictable concerns voiced by the larger companies were the potential damage done to a firm’s reputation as a consequence of publication and the potential for abuse by opportunistic complaints companies and ‘ambulance chasing’ media.