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Building Societies&#39 Association and dual pricing

I am writing about the article in Money Marketing (June 27), concerning dual prices, the Ombudsman decision and the legal view of the Building Societies&#39 Association.

The Building Societies&#39 Association has no legal view on the dual-pricing decisions of the Financial Ombudsman.

Indeed, we very much welcome the constructive approach being taken by the FOS and the FSA in trying to find ways in future to deal with cases that have “wider implications”, discussed in the recently published FSA progress report, Treating Customers Fairly.

The association did examine the powers of the FOS under the Financial Services and Markets Act. Our conclusion, supported by counsel&#39s opinion, was that the FOS would be acting beyond its powers if, without going through the statutory consultation process, it were to specify matters which were to be taken into account by ombudsmen in determining whether an act was fair and reasonable.

We also examined human rights issues. In the light of this work having been carried out, it is easy to see how a misunderstanding might occur but the work concerned general principles and was not was carried out with the dual variable mortgage-rate cases in mind.

Chris Lawrenson

Head of legal services, Building Societies&#39 Association, London

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