Aifa director general Chris Cummings says he was expecting Hunt’s recommendations to go further, particularly concerning case fees and oral hearings.
Cummings says: “We believe that Lord Hunt should have accepted our calls for the introduction of oral hearings. The lesser step of a pilot of facilitated meetings in the early stages of complaints is welcome as it shall be used to test the difference a hearing makes. The decision to introduce oral hearings should be reconsidered at the end of the pilot.”
Aifa says it has “severe concerns” about possible consumer misinterpretation of the ombudsman service if a greater awareness campaign is launched.
Cummings says: “It must be made clear to consumers that FOS is an arbitration service. Consumers should only refer to FOS if they have failed to reach agreement with the firm involved. Miscommunication of this point could result in the Ombudsman being inundated with complaints, which they then have to refer back to the correct course of action.
But Cummings has praised the review’s recommendation for the FOS to provide figures on compensation for claimants.
He says: “This is an improvement on the current system of just providing a formula for claims. At least we will have the true figure of the amount of compensation awarded by FOS and know who the main culprits are.”
Aifa has also praised recommendations for the extension of the FOS Small Firms Taskforce, the removal of fee charging for cases found to be outside the remit of FOS and the introduction of case fees for claims management companies submitting vexatious claims.
But Cummings adds: “We are disappointed that this did not go further. Anyone bringing frivolous or vexatious claims should have to pay a case fee.”