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ombudsman news

issue 8

August 2001

preparing for the future - changes for IMRO-regulated firms

As part of our preparation for N2 (1 December 2001, the date when the Financial Ombudsman Service receives its powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000), we are modifying the processes of the constituent schemes and, at the same time, introducing a computerised case-handling system.

This has resulted in some detailed changes to practice and terminology and we set out below the significant changes for IMRO-regulated firms. The investment division began work under the new procedures and processes on Friday 5 July 2001 and, initially, IMRO-regulated firms will have seen only a change in terminology. However, increasingly, they will notice we have begun passing on to firms the details of people who complain direct to us without first having been through the firms' complaint procedure.

overall approach

Until 30 November 2001, our objective remains as set out in The Ombudsman Memorandum (published by IMRO in May 1999). This is to investigate the facts and seek to establish the relevant issues, in order to recommend a settlement that the Ombudsman considers fair and reasonable. Our new procedures are designed to be flexible, and we will want to maintain an active dialogue with both the firm and the customer in our handling of cases.

specific changes

  • Customers' first contacts to the Financial Ombudsman Service will be to the customer contact division.
  • We have re-designed the complaint form and can produce a personalised form for customers, entering the information they provide when they telephone us.
  • From August 2001, if at the time of the customer's initial contact with us, we conclude that the firm has not had an adequate opportunity to respond to the complaint, we will write to the firm, setting out the concerns the customer has raised with us. We will ask the firm to resolve the matter, and will tell the customer we have passed on this information to the firm.

We hope that firms are reviewing their own arrangements for handling complaints, in anticipation of the new rules. For example, they will have only eight weeks to reach their decision and it will be important to ensure that formal decision letters include reference to the ombudsman as a potential avenue for the customer wherever the matter might be within our jurisdiction.

further information

We are happy to provide firms with information at any stage of the complaints process, and to advise on the next steps in any particular case. Please contact:

Andrea Johnson,
casework manager 020 7964 0288

or, in her absence,

Dominic Fielding, assistant casework manager 020 7964 0188

liaison and training

If you have more general issues that you would like to discuss, please contact our liaison manager, Caroline Wells, who can also organise training and visits.

Caroline Wells
020 7964 0648

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 8 [PDF format]

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.