Financial Ombudsman Service – A Realistic Alternative?

by | Mar 17, 2016 | Blog Posts

Bank | Levi Solicitors Leeds Wakefield Manchester

Many clients approach Levi Solicitors with complaints and claims which they wish to bring against their

  • bank
  • insurance provider; or
  • another financial services provider

In today’s commercial climate, with increasingly large burdens on Claimants, such as Court fees and unrecoverable after the event insurance premiums, litigants are often looking for cost-effective alternatives to the litigation process.

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by the Government in order to assist individuals to resolve complaints and claims that they have against financial businesses, where the response to the complaints was unsatisfactory.

The service, which is available to individuals and small businesses, is to some Claimants an attractive alternative to the Court process due to the absence of the significant fees often required to begin a claim in the courts.

What is the process?

The process is invariably started by the Claimant (or representative acting on that person’s behalf) formally complaining to the financial provider/Defendant.

Once the complaint has been received by the financial institution, the institution has 8 weeks to review the complaint and to provide their response.  In the event that the parties arrive at an impasse, the financial institution should send to the complainer its final response.  After this, the Claimant has 6 months in which to bring a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.  This does not affect the normal limitation periods, which would otherwise be attached to the matter if it were to be dealt with by way of a litigation.

The matter, following receipt of the final response, can be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service for review. The Ombudsman will assess the matter based on the evidence before it and set out how it believes the matter should be dealt with.  This can lead to the Ombudsman demanding that the financial institution pays to the Claimant a sum of money (up to a maximum of £100,000) and can also lead to a variety of other outcomes.

The Financial Ombudsman Service route is an attractive one to Claimants with limited funds who are unable to obtain representation on a no-win, no-fee basis, as there are no Court fees attached to bringing a complaint.  The £100,000 maximum award is discouraging to Claimants with larger claims, but most crucially, if a Claimant accepts an award from the Ombudsman he or she can be precluded from them bringing the remainder of a large claim at Court subsequently.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim or complaint in respect of your bank, insurance provider or other financial provider, please call our Litigation Department at Levi Solicitors on 0800 988 7756 or get in touch online by clicking here.

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