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Voluntary jurisdiction warning to brokers

National broker Mortgageforce warns that intermediaries and lenders choosing to adopt voluntary jurisdiction from the Financial Ombudsman Service may unwittingly be hit with retrospective complaints.

From this month, mortgage advisers and providers have the option of signing up to the ombudsman in advance of being compelled to come under its complaint scheme when FSA regulation starts in 2004.

At the moment, consumer complaints against MCCB-authorised brokers are handled by the mortgage code authorisation scheme, set to close in 2004, which will only accept grievances arising from dealings after the date the broker registers with it.

But new complaints against a broker which registers with the ombudsman now can be made regarding business done up to three years ago.

The MCCB says it is working with the FOS but is up to firms to make their own decision about joining the scheme which offers a high standard of consumer protection. It also says most brokers registered with the MCAS in 1998 when the mortgage code was introduced so clients have had a means to complain since then anyway.

Mortgageforce managing director Rob Clifford says: “Brokers should be aware that they may face retrospective complaints from clients if they join the FOS and could end up facing additional exposure.”

FOS head of communications David Cresswell: “We will be explaining how we work and I would hope brokers would not want to try to bury complaints.”

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