The FCA has confirmed it will consider if there needs to be better guidance around when it and the Financial Ombudsman Service can share information ahead of the FOS making its final decision.
In a Complaints Commissioner final report, published on its website yesterday, commissioner Antony Townsend invited the FCA and FOS to discuss when the two organisations should share information.
Townsend said: I invite the FCA to consider discussing with the FOS whether there should be clear guidance about the circumstances in which information may be shared between the FOS and the FCA in advance of final ombudsman decisions, and about any limitations on information sharing between the two bodies, or within them….”
“…and whether, where the FCA is sharing information with the FOS, the norm should be that this will be made known to the parties, the reasons for any exceptions being recorded.”
In the complaint, the complainant claims the FCA illegally influenced the FOS in its handling of issues against a financial services firm by communicating without the knowledge of the firm.
At the time of the FOS investigation, the FCA was also conducting a parallel, unrelated inquiry into the firm’s conduct.
The report states that redacted documentation was disclosed after the firm called for its release under the Freedom of Information Act.
Documents showed there was “correspondence and meetings between the FOS and the FCA…at which it appeared the firm and complaint had been discussed.”
Townsend did not uphold the complaint.
In response to the final report, the FCA says: “The FCA notes the commissioner’s decision not to uphold the complaint. We also note that the commissioner has invited the FCA to discuss with the FOS whether there should be clear guidance about the circumstances in which information may be shared between the FOS and the FCA in advance of final ombudsman decisions. We will consider this in conjunction with the FOS.”