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ombudsman news

issue 21

October 2002

ask ombudsman news - your questions answered

tax bill on top of mortgage endowment problems-

I work in a citizens advice bureau and have been helping a lady who was mis-sold a mortgage endowment policy. Earlier this year, the firm paid her compensation. She used this money, together with the amount she got for surrendering her policy, to repay part of her mortgage loan and switch to a repayment mortgage. She is now very worried because the accountant where she works has told her he thinks she will have to pay tax on this transaction.

When your client surrendered her mortgage endowment policy she would have received a "Chargeable Event Certificate". This surrender took place within 10 years of the date the policy started, so any gain she made will be added to her income for the year. If she is a higher rate taxpayer, this gain will be charged at the rate equal to the difference between higher rate and basic rate tax.

But the regulator's guidance on compensation for mis-sold mortgage endowment policies makes clear that firms are expected to reimburse customers who incur any additional tax liability as a result of surrendering a policy early. So if your client does face a tax bill, she should contact the firm.

help needed with first-ever complaint

After 20 years as an independent financial adviser, I've just received my first-ever complaint from a client. It seems straightforward enough but how can I be sure I handle it properly-

We'll be happy to talk things through with you on an informal basis. Just give our technical advice desk a call on 020 7964 1400 or email technical.advice@financial-ombudsman.org.uk.

is a "final" decision really final-

Can an ombudsman re-open a complaint after making a final decision on it-

A recent court case has confirmed that once an ombudsman has made a final decision on a complaint - and the consumer has accepted that decision (making it binding on the firm) - we have no power to re-open the complaint.

During the various stages while we are considering a complaint, we will make clear the grounds on which we propose to rely in our decision. So it is important that firms let us know all the points they want us to take into account, before we make a final decision. Otherwise it will be too late.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.