Financial Ombudsman Service [FOS]

Should a consumer acquire a product and use a credit card to pay for the product, in part or whole, the consumer can hold the provider of credit joint and severably liable in damages should that product be mis-sold, misrepresented, or the contract was breached or frustrated.

It is irrelevant whether the consumer paid £1 towards the product or paid for the whole cost on a credit card, the consumer is protected and can hold the credit provider responsible for all the damages claimed.

That said, there are particular rules and to mention them all in this one article would be impossible, however, we can explain ways you can claim.

The Financial Ombudsman Service in the UK was established in 2000. It was granted statutory powers in 2001 by way of “The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000”. Its purpose is to help settle disputes, so UK courts are not troubled. The disputes they can assist in are complaints between the (debtor) consumers and the UK based (creditor) businesses who provide financial services, financial advice and finance.

Before a consumer can deliver a case to the ombudsman they must first give the business an opportunity to consider the complaint and settle it. In doing so, they have a maximum of 8 weeks in which to resolve the complaint. Should they fail to settle the claim to the satisfaction of the complainants, those complainants can refer the complaint to FOS.

The ombudsman has the authority and can make the creditor company give financial compensation, correct a consumer's credit file, or in some circumstances offer an apology. The terms as expressed by them and the intervention they provide is generally referred to as a dispute resolution service which is paid for by the UK financial institutions.

Unlike a court, the ombudsman will decide on what they believe is “fair” and “reasonable” having regard for the particular circumstances. When making its decisions the law requires the ombudsman to consider the relevant laws and regulations, its regulator's rules, guidance and standards, codes of practice and what it believes it considers to be a good industry practice.

The Financial Ombudsman Service is funded by the UK's financial services, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or those who are licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The service is free to consumers.

FOS was set up by Parliament to be an impartial and independent body, though its decisions can be criticised by the side that loses.

In some cases, consumers have questioned the amount of redress they have been awarded by FOS. There are a variety of websites which have come into existence and have been set up to complain about the Financial Ombudsman's partiality, however, these websites seem to exist for people who usually disagreed with the decisions of the FOS.

Should a consumer elect not to accept the FOS decision, they retain the legal rights to take the matter to court instead. This is all explained when the FOS have been the subject of a judicial review.

The judge clarified the FOS is "free to make an award different from that which a court may apply”. This could mean a litigant has to overcome a high hurdle when proving that the FOS decision was unfair.

In November 2011 the FOS Service was in subjection to the Freedom of Information Act.

The UK Financial Ombudsman Service is a member of the International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes, a global association whose members operate as out-of-court dispute resolution mechanisms in the financial sector.

At present LCF assist consumers to make complaints to the FOS by assisting them to pay for the necessary fees associated with bringing claims and to date we have assisted over 1,000 consumers.