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Watchdog facing human rights challenge over £500 case levy

The Financial Ombudsman Service&#39s £500 case levy is being challenged under the Human Rights Act 1998 by City law firm Halliwell Landau.

It says the Act protects people from being deprived of their property and says this applies to IFAs if they are charged a fee when a decision is in their favour.

It argues a better way is to increase the fee but refund it if the case is ruled in favour of the adviser.

Halliwell Landau previously took a case against the PIA in September when it launched legal action over the pension review. It claims IFAs are being penalised by PIA rules which came into being in 1994 for actions they took prior to this date and they were compliant with the rules at the time.

It is urging other IFAs to come forward if they are interested in joining the case. It is holding two meetings at its London and Manchester offices on December 12 and December 13.

The FOS says the £500 fee is a measure which derives from the PIA Ombudsman rules but says the fee will drop to between £300 and £350 from April.

A spokeswoman says: “We have not been issued with any papers. There is no judicial review under way that we are aware of.”

Halliwell Landau partner Louise Curd says: “The fee appears to be levied regardless of outcome. In our view, the fact that the fee is not refundable if the complaint is dismissed is contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998 and is capable of challenge.”

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