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new chief ombudsman appointed

15 June 1999

The Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme Board has today announced the appointment of the first Chief Financial Services Ombudsman. The new FSOS will merge the eight existing Ombudsman schemes in the financial services sector into a single 'one stop shop' for financial services consumers.

Walter Merricks, currently the Insurance Ombudsman, will head up the single Ombudsman scheme as proposed under the Financial Services and Markets Bill. As Chief Ombudsman, Walter Merricks will operate independently from the Scheme Board in respect of individual decisions. In addition to personally handling complex or precedent cases, he will be engaged in Scheme policy, ensuring overall quality and consistency of case-handling and decision making on complaints referred to the Scheme, as well as external representation. He will take up the position shortly.

Andreas Whittam Smith, Chairman of the Scheme Board, said:

I am delighted to announce Walter Merricks' appointment as Chief Ombudsman. This is an extremely important role to which he brings a wealth of experience, skills and expertise and a clear vision of how the new Scheme should develop. This will prove invaluable during the merger of the existing schemes and the establishment and future development of a first class single Ombudsman Scheme.

Walter Merricks, the new Chief Ombudsman said:

My task is to bring together and build on the success of the existing Ombudsmen schemes with a single point of access for complainants. The new scheme should underpin consumer confidence by creating a unified and effective system for resolving disputes between customers and providers of financial products and services.

Walter Merricks is a lawyer and has worked both in the public and private sectors, as well as within the academic field. He has been Insurance Ombudsman since September 1996. He is married with two children.

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