Financial Ombudsman Service—essentials
Financial Ombudsman Service—essentials

The following Financial Services guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Financial Ombudsman Service—essentials
  • Purpose of the Financial Ombudsman Service
  • Scope of the Financial Ombudsman Service's jurisdiction
  • Who can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service
  • Complainant's relationship with the firm
  • Time frames for bringing and hearing complaints
  • Approach to complaint resolution
  • Process
  • Remedies
  • Funding
  • more

Purpose of the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is an independent dispute resolution scheme that exists to assist consumers in resolving complaints with financial services firms.

The FOS provides independent ombudsmen who review and resolve complaints between consumers and firms.

The FOS is not a regulator. The service provided by the FOS is impartial, and its decision-making is wholly independent from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Its service is free of charge for complainants, and its jurisdiction covers dealing with complaints about the vast majority of regulated financial products and services, provided in or from the UK. The Dispute Resolution: Complaints (DISP) section of the FCA handbook goes into detail on the role and duties of the FOS. For more information on the FOS and complaints against firms in general see Complaints against firms—financial services—overview.

Scope of the Financial Ombudsman Service's jurisdiction

The basis of the FOS’ powers is set out in FSMA 2000, Pt XVI, and the scope of its jurisdiction and complaint handling procedures is set out in detail in DISP 2 and DISP 3 of the FCA Handbook.

The FOS has two areas of jurisdiction:

  1. compulsory jurisdiction (ie the jurisdiction of the FOS to which FCA authorised firms, payment service providers, electronic money issuers and certain others are compulsorily