Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

The intersection of commercial powers and complaints: the Financial Ombudsman Service, consumer protection and the courts

P E Morris *

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is the leading form of consumer redress in the United Kingdom. Despite its arm’s length relationship with Government, its corporate status and role as essentially a private dispute resolution mechanism, its determinations and decision-making procedures are subject to judicial scrutiny, principally though not exclusively via the principles of judicial review of administrative action. This article outlines the FOS’s role and explores the FOS–courts interface by extrapolating a series of principles relating to its effective functioning from a quartet of contemporary cases.


The Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS”) is the largest Ombudsman scheme in the world. Created pursuant to a minimalist statutory framework in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FiSMA”),1 it incorporates into a single organisation, operating under one roof in London Docklands, 11 Ombudsmen and complaints-handling arrangements which previously existed as separate schemes2 on self-regulatory, statutory and hybrid bases with widely differing jurisdictions, procedures and dispute resolution philosophies. These discrepancies have now been harmonised and consumers provided with a single point of entry, standardised treatment of complaints and access to a body enjoying a close policy and operational relationship with the Financial Services Authority (“FSA”) as the lead regulator. During 2007–2008 the FOS resolved nearly 100,000 disputes, received over 123,000 complaints which financial services businesses had been unable to resolve in-house (an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year) and handled a record 794,648 enquiries. This was accomplished on an annual budget of £55.5 million and a total staff establishment of 825.3

The rest of this document is only available to i-law.com online subscribers.

If you are already a subscriber, click Log In button.

Copyright © 2024 Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited. Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited is registered in England and Wales with company number 13831625 and address 5th Floor, 10 St Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD, United Kingdom. Lloyd's List Intelligence is a trading name of Maritime Insights & Intelligence Limited.

Lloyd's is the registered trademark of the Society Incorporated by the Lloyd's Act 1871 by the name of Lloyd's.