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Calling all prospective bidders

Rumours of a rift between the FSA and a disgruntled Financial Ombudsman Service’s Walter Merricks have been running strong for a while now so it was no great surprise when news broke that Merricks is leaving the FOS.

Now that the top job has come up for grabs, who should be chosen to fill the spot?

Beachcroft Regulatory Consulting managing director Richard Hobbs says principle ombudsman Tony Boorman seems an obvious internal candidate.

But he adds: “The debate will be over whether Merricks’ successor should be a lawyer or not. It should be a lay person in my view.”

The FOS says it will advertise the post internally as well as externally, but what should it be looking for in prospective candidates?

Must have knowledge of the legal system and how it relates to financial services? Needs a good understanding of the dispute resolution process? Must understand complex financial products and their uses?

Do you think Merricks’ replacement has big shoes to fill? Who do you think should take over the role?

What changes need to be made at the FOS and what would you do if you were in charge?

Post your comments below.


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There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Make it legal first.
    The FSA appoints the Chief Ombudsman with HM Trasury sitting on its shoulder. Can’t see them making it legal before appointing a replacement for the human rights ‘expert’ known as Merricks willingly. The ideal replacement would bring an open mind, how would a layperson do that? Isn’t Beachcroft the firm where Lord Hunt had his ‘independent’ report drafted using the words and needs of HM Treasury? The FOS is in desperate need of some credibility and unless there is balance it will remain a bit of a problem for the FSA.

  2. SIMON MANSELL 1st July 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Why be a lawyer when the law is ignored
    In the opinion of Anthony Speight QC:
    “Such a system would be tolerable if the maximum award were modest – say £5,000 (which is the maximum summary compensation under the legal professions’ schemes for “inadequate professional service”). It would also be tolerable if, as is the case with the summary system of adjudication in the construction industry under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, there could be a complete rehearing before a court. And it might even be tolerable if it were applied only against very large companies.

    The FSA say: “The lack of an Appeal process may offend the “fair trial” provisions of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights ECHR incorporated into law by the Human Rights Act 1998. The right to a Judicial Review is not a right to an appeal and an external appeal could maintain the quality of the decision.

    The FOS say: “Currently, the laws of evidence play little part in the Ombudsman process, HEARSAY, UNSWORN TESTIMONEY – all are considered by the Ombudsman. There is also the matter of the interpretation of Article 6 by the European Courts and how far that will impact upon our attempts to make the process informal while, in doing so, cut across the rights bestowed by Article 6. The principle behind such rights being regarded as sacrosanct by the Court at Strasbourg.”

    The fact that Walter Merrick is a lawyer has made not a jot of difference to what some would see as the widespread breach of the human rights of those the FOS adjudicate upon!

  3. “Whatever that means”
    Said by the Prince of Wales when asked if he and Diana were in love – and we all know what it actually meant to him.

    Said by Walter Merricks of Consumer Responsibility in Ombudsman News 77. I wonder what he actually means

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