RegulationNov 5 2014

How to secure a positive result with Fos

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The ombudsmen normally have more experience than the adjudicators, and often have greater technical knowledge. It is therefore worth reiterating the points made in the original response and briefly explaining why you consider the adjudicator has either misunderstood your previous submissions or made some other mistake. As always, try to keep your points sharp and snappy. A wall of text is rarely attractive.

If the ombudsman decides against you then his decision is binding if the claimant accepts it. The decision is enforceable by the courts and there are only limited circumstances in which a professional can successfully object to enforcement. Perhaps the small consolation is that it is cheaper and quicker to lose a complaint to Fos than in court.

If the ombudsman decides in your favour then you are allowed to pause at this stage for a small celebration, but with one eye on the final ‘P’, which follows.


If a claimant does not get the result he wants from the ombudsman, it is open to him to reject the decision and resort to the courts to settle the dispute.

In many cases a claimant would be unwise to do so since the ombudsman applies a less stringent and arguably more ‘claimant-friendly’ approach to complaints than the court will.

Nevertheless advisers and insurers should be aware that what is said in response to the Fos complaint can be used in court proceedings. I have dealt with a number of cases in which my client has produced the first response to Fos in something of a rush. A combination of frustration that the complaint has been made at all, and a desire to move on and deal with profitable work, can mean that the response produced is not as thorough, accurate or useful as it might be.

This can have serious consequences in later litigation, particularly where, during correspondence with Fos, different versions of factual events are advanced to correct earlier mistakes. This can render the adviser an ‘unreliable witness’ in the eyes of the court, and weaken the impact of any evidence he might want to give. I have had to settle cases which might otherwise have been winnable because inconsistencies in early letters written to Fos meant our key witness might not be sufficiently reliable.

James Field is a solicitor at Triton Global