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Defence Union starts human rights action against FOS

The IFA Defence Union has formally applied to the High Court for a judicial review against the Financial Ombudsman Service for allegedly breaking European human rights law.

The application was made in person last week by ATE Risk legal risk analyst Andrew Wesson, who will organise the underwriting of the union’s case if it reaches judicial review.

The case rests on the union’s contention that the FOS has breached Article 6.1 of the Human Rights Act by not allowing advisers a right to the 15-year long-stop defence under its dispute resolution rules.

The judge has three months to decide whether to grant a judicial review. If a review is not granted, the union has a right to an oral hearing to state its case.

The IFADU says it will mount a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if it exhausts all domestic legal avenues.

Wesson says he believes the IFADU has a very strong case and is confident of a positive decision from the courts.

He says: “It is sad that IFAs do not have a valid and robust avenue for appeal against FOS decisions while paying so much money in fees.

“If we are successful with the claim, the implications are huge for the way the financial services industry is set up and will affect everyone from the Treasury and FSA down to individual advisers.”

FOS spokeswoman Emma Parker says: “We are a publicly accountable body and it is right that firms have the ability to appeal for a judicial review if they believe they have an appropriate case. It is up to the courts to decide what happens next.”

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