Conservative MP Mark Field has tabled an amendment to the Financial Services Bill which would allow consumers to accept the maximum Financial Ombudsman Service award and sue for further compensation in court.
The ombudsman’s maximum award limit is currently £150,000. Last November, the High Court ruled in Andrews v SBJ Benefits Consultants that complainants cannot accept a FOS award and pursue the firm in court for additional redress over the same complaint.
The amendment by Field (pictured), who is MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, would effectively overturn that ruling. His amendment says any award made by the FOS would be “without prejudice to the right of the complainant to sue for any amounts in excess of the maximum award limit”.
Fishburns Solicitors partner Harriet Quiney, who represen-ted IFA firm SBJ Benefits Consultants in the High Court case, says: “People who would benefit from this amendment are likely to be those with quite big claims, many of whom would look to use the FOS to raise funds for subsequent legal action. Complainants may get a fav-ourable ruling from the FOS but would then face much tougher scrutiny in the courts and risk losing quite a lot of money.”
Compliance consultant Adam Samuel, who suggested the amendment to Field, says: “If you are awarded money by the FOS, you can use it for what- ever you want.
“Currently, those with large claims who want to accept a ruling from the FOS have to forfeit the rest of their compensation, which is manifestly unfair.”