FOS Head Agrees to Independent Review Following ‘Troubling’ Documentary

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    The Financial Ombudsman Service’s (FOS) head has agreed to an “independent review” of the firm after the “troubling” revelations that were revealed in an investigation that was conducted by Channel 4 earlier this month that some cases may not have been “decided correctly.”

    The chief ombudsman, Caroline Wayman, responded to a probing letter from the MP and chair of the Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan, which questioned the processes at the FOS to avoid “poor decision making,” as well as the “improper handling of cases,” and “alleged errors” of the business.

    Wayman confirmed that an “independent person” would be appointed to carry out the said review, so the firm will be able to “better understand and address the concerns raised by the programme.”

    As a response, Morgan said that the possibility that cases may have been incorrectly handled was “troubling” and suggested that complaints should be reexamined even if a final decision has already been reached.

    She stated: “It’s right that cases be reopened if there is any new evidence that might affect the outcome. That must surely include failures in the FOS’ own processes.”

    Morgan said that the review that was promised by the chief ombudsman of the FOS “must consider the FOS’ approach to decision-making” and “the assurance process” and it must be “demonstrably independent.”

    Some other issues which were released in the Dispatches documentary included employees admitting that they rushed through some cases in order to meet targets and ruled in favour of the banks since it was easier to just “make one phone call” to an individual than persuade a business to pay out.

    The FOS handles complaints between financial service firms and consumers. It had already agreed to a review that will be “overseen by the non-executive board” regarding the “concerns raised in the programme.”

    However, James Daley, a consumer campaigner who is from Fairer Finance, said that he was sceptical regarding this suggestion. He said that the board were “implicated” in the failings of the ombudsman that “happened on their watch.”

    Morgan added that she would be writing to Wayman to set out in more detail the “expectation of the review” of the Treasury Committee and will be considering whether any additional action is required.