On 1 November 2021, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) published its consultation feedback statement on temporary changes to reporting the outcomes of proactively settled complaints.
The FOS reports that a majority of those participating in the consultation supported the central proposal and the FOS confirms that it will be implementing a time-limited change to the way in which it publishes outcome data. The FOS will:
- Record separately in its business-specific complaints data any complaint proactively settled by a firm under the proposal before the FOS has issued its opinion on the complaint.
- Implement a ‘cut-off’ date of 31 October 2021 for complaints to be in scope under the proposal, meaning any complaint deemed chargeable by the FOS on or after 1 November 2021 will not be in scope.
- Revert to how the FOS currently records the outcomes of complaints from 1 April 2022 onwards.
The FOS has also made a modification to its proposal in light of consultation feedback expressing reservations about the approach to relaying proactive offers to customers. The original proposal envisaged that the FOS should present proactive offers from businesses ‘neutrally’ to customers. Some stakeholders were concerned about how this approach could inadvertently present a risk to fair and consistent outcomes for consumers. The FOS agrees with this feedback and agrees that it would be better for all parties if it would review the fairness and reasonableness of any offer communicated through the process. The FOS will be making the necessary arrangements to ensure that any proactive offer made through the process is reviewed by it. Where it appears to be fair and reasonable, the FOS will put it forward to the customer. Where it does not consider it obviously fair and reasonable, it will challenge it.