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Who holds the FOS to account?

Twice, in the past two weeks, the Financial Ombudsman Service spokeswoman Emma Parker has claimed in Money Marketing that the FOS is a publicly accountable body.

Yet the evidence lined up against Ms Parker’s assertion is formidable. Advisers have no worthwhile appeal mechanism.

A judicial review cannot look at the merit of an ombudsman decision, only at whether due process had been followed. Personal hearings are denied and hearsay evidence and lies can be given the same credence as factual evidence.

Perhaps the most damning evidence comes from chief ombudsman Walter Merricks. In recent years, he has stated that the FOS is “not accountable to ministers”, but, “accountability is extremely important to me”.

Add to this the revelation “We do not have to pretend to ‘find’ what the law is. We unashamedly make new ‘law’.”

Finally, in describing the FOS, Merricks has stated: “It is a one-sided scheme offering an unlevel playing field broadly supported by those playing uphill”.

To whom is FOS accountable? We know it is not financial advisers and Walter Merricks confirms that it’s not Parliament.

The question for Ms Parker is, who is it accountable to?

Alan Lakey
Partner, Highclere Financial Services

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