Financial Ombudsman Service publishes feedback on proactive complaints settlement and outcome reporting

Last month we published a news item about the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) publishing a Consultation Paper which set out the temporary amendments it proposed to make to the way it reports business-specific complaints data, particularly the ‘uphold rate’. The consultation was open between 4th and 18th October 2021. On 1st November FOS published its Feedback Statement having received 64 submissions to the paper; 42 responses addressed the specific consultation questions and a further 22 responses provided more general feedback or views on particular point.

In light of the feedback received the FOS has confirmed that it will be implementing a time-limited change to the way in which it publishes outcome data. This means that for complaints already referred to the FOS, it will create a separate category to record any complaint within this population that is proactively settled by a business before FOS has issued its opinion.

The FOS has implemented a ‘cut-off’ date of 31st October 2021 for complaints to be in scope under this proposal.  From 1st April 2022 the FOS will revert to its current method of recording outcomes of complaints.

Perhaps of greater significance is what is driving this decision to amend the reporting of the complaints uphold rate.  In an effort to reduce the numbers of complaints outstanding the FOS is proposing to relay proactive offers from firms to customers. The proposal is that the FOS will present proactive offers from businesses to customers after it has reviewed the fairness and reasonableness of any offer communicated through this process.   Where it any offer appears to be fair and reasonable, the FOS will put it forward to the customer. Where the FOS does not consider it fair and reasonable, it will challenge the offer.

From the 1st November 2021, therefore, the FOS will send businesses that qualified for the H1 2021 data publication a listing of in-scope cases.  The FOS will offer support, and actively work with, businesses that want to use this opportunity to help settle cases in a fair and reasonable way.  In order to prevent any delays for customers, the FOS will continue to progress cases in scope, but will allow businesses additional time to review cases where they identify in advance that they are likely to make proactive offers.

Firms should identify any cases they currently have with the FOS that fall within scope and look to proactively resolve any such cases as soon as possible.

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