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Ombudsman ‘not ready’ to handle more SME disputes

30th July 2018

MPs are doubtful that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will be able to handle disputes from SMEs, following a recent report.

The FOS is an independent service that allows individuals and certain businesses to resolve disputes with financial service businesses.

Currently, it can only review complaints from businesses with fewer than 10 employees and an annual turnover of up to €2 million.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has proposed to expand this remit to include more SMEs by December 2018, arguing that many small businesses have limited options for handling disputes and struggle to resolve them through courts.

However, following an independent review of the FOS in July 2018, the Treasury committee has expressed concerns that it will not be prepared to handle an expansion in these complaints.

Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, wrote in a letter to the FCA that the committee is "doubtful as to whether the FOS is ready" for the proposed change.

Morgan added:

"The proposals should not be pursued at the expense of sound decision making and appropriate training and recruitment at the FOS.

"The already-damaged public confidence in the FOS will be damaged even further if these changes are rushed through."

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Knowles Warwick Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (in respect of regulated investment, insurance and mortgage business). For regulated financial services, the Financial Ombudsman Service is the alternative dispute resolution provider.