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Court battle looming over FOS jurisdiction

The Financial Ombudsman Service could face a High Court battle over its right to hear complaints against advisers from many years ago.

Two similar challenges have been tabled testing FOS’s final decisions, claiming it has acted beyond its jurisdiction.

The judicial reviews relate to the FOS not applying the 15year long-stop rule that is part of the Limitation Act 1980 and not applying the Fimbra regulatory record-keeping standards of the time.

The two advisers involved have between them over 600 cases which they believe have been unfairly adjudicated by the FOS because they fall outside its jurisdiction.

The solicitor involved, Shakespeare Putsman LLP, is writing to all directly authorised advisers this week asking if they want to become interested parties in the judicial reviews.The letter will ask for the support of advisers currently subject to an FOS claim or subject to a final decision in the last three years where the circumstances being reviewed could apply.

In a defendant’s summary, the FOS has rejected the need for the review, suggesting that it is “misconceived and unmeritorious”.

Spokesman David Cresswell says: “We believe that we have the answers to these well-rehearsed IFA grievances. It is interesting that we have been attacked for only being accountable through the complex judicial review process yet advisers are not having problems using this route.”

Shakespeare Putsman LLP says it is hoping to inform the court of the number of interested parties by the end of June before a permission test, where the judge will decide whether there is an arguable case.

The judge may then call for a permission hearing, with a hearing likely later in the year if the review goes ahead.

Shakespeare Putsman LLP solicitor Gareth Fatchett says: “We are not looking for a battle with the FOS, just seeking clarity of the rules on behalf of the IFA community. We have finally got the right cases we believe will allow the FOS’s jurisdiction to be judicially reviewed and are seeking the help of other IFAs in making this happen.”

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