A Devon IFA claims the Financial Ombudsman Service uses unfair criteria to decide whether a complaint against an IFA is frivolous or vexatious.
Philip G Milton & Co managing director Philip Milton has been the subject of three complaints to the FOS, which have either been withdrawn or rejected because there was no case to answer. But he has still had to pay a fee of £360 for each case.
One case was dismissed because the complainant had miscalculated the amount of money to which he thought he was entitled. A second case was withdrawn by the complainant when he accepted the claim was insignificant. The third was withdrawn when the FOS realised that the value of the claim was around £35.
Milton asked for the fees to be waived but says FOS staff told him that while the cases may have been found to be frivolous or vexatious, they did not appear so when they were filed, so the fee remains payable.
He says: “The FOS is effectively saying it accepts the case was frivolous but it did not know that at the beginning so it cannot let me off the fee. If a monitoring officer allocates a case to a case officer, it is adjudged to be not frivolous or vexatious.”
But the FOS says many cases that seem frivolous or vexatious would never have come before it if firms were better at dealing with clients' complaints. Spokeswoman Alison Hoyland says: “Firms are often bad at explaining to consumers what has gone wrong. Had they been better at that, the consumer might not have complained.”