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Complaints Commissioner sides with FCA over late fees charge

The Complaints Commissioner has rejected accusations the FCA unfairly sent debt collectors to an individual who used to be regulated over paying their regulatory fees late.

The complainant had applied to cancel their authorisation in September 2017. They were subsequently charged fees for the 2017/18 year as the cancellation was after the FCA’s 31 March deadline.

The complainant claimed the FCA’s record-keeping was lacking as a visit to its office in February to clarify the issue was not recorded.

Based on this, the complainant alleges the accuracy of the regulator’s record-keeping regarding all communications with their firm may be in question.

In a final report released today, the Commissioner outlines the FCA’s belief that it followed guidelines and made sufficient effort to inform the complainant of the fees owed for the 2017/18 year before debt collectors were contacted to enforce the payment.

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The FCA made one telephone call and sent four emails to the complainant over the registration fees and late payment fee, which the complainant regarded as suspicious emails from a third party.

The telephone number registered to the complainant’s firm was disconnected when the regulator attempted made contact.

Complaints Commissioner Anthony Townsend dismissed the complainant’s argument that communication was not adequate.

He writes: “It is the responsibility of firms to update the FCA about a change to their contact details, and there was no record of you notifying the FCA of a change in telephone numbers.”

Townsend also says the complainant did not contact the FCA regarding plans to cancel authorisation and therefore made incorrect assumptions about the process.

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He writes: “Firms wishing to apply to cancel their authorisation need to ensure that they follow the correct procedure and it is clear that you did not attempt to contact the FCA to enquire about the de-authorisation process before deciding that you no longer wish to carry out regulated activities.”

The Commissioner says the FCA treated the complainant’s case in line with established procedures and the fees for the 2017/18 year are owed.

He says: “I believe that the FCA followed the correct procedure in applying the annual fees for the year 2017/18 and did take reasonable steps to inform you of the amount due.”

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