It seems that the All Party Group's report on the Financial Ombudsman Service has caused abit of a stir.
Saturday's Money Box on Radio 4 featured a debate between Chris Cummings of the Association of Independent Financial Advisers and the group's chairman, John Greenway.
AIFA's response to the Hunt Review included a call for a fee to be levied on consumers to deter vexatious and frivolous complaints and, when pressed by Paul Lewis on the programme, Chris Cummings put a figure of £400 on the sort of fee that should be applied. This is substantially higher than any of the organisations that came to the group to put this point suggested and I think further underlines that the group was right to reject the idea, saying "The group is not in favour of introducing fees whereby the consumer pays to get access to FOS (even where such fee is refunded where a case is upheld), as it is felt that this might deter some consumers with genuine grievances. The group understands the industry’s concerns about mischievous complaints but considers the danger that even one genuine complaint might not be submitted because of the imposition of a fee to be too much of a risk".
John Greenway also warned that imposing a fee – even a refundable one – would risk driving complainants into the hands of ambulance chasing lawyers and even direct to the courts, all of which would be far more damaging to the small advisers AIFA is trying to protect.
As Mr Greenway pointed out, the Hunt Review is meant to be about improving accessibility of the Financial Ombudsman Service and talk of fees is hardly going to achieve that.
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