ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.
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It has seemed like a long time coming – but at last I can welcome to the Financial Ombudsman Service the 80,000 businesses who hold consumer credit licences. We have long looked forward to this day. Consumers who have complaints about credit transactions that took place from 6 April 2007 will now be able to bring those complaints to us.
Back when I was Insurance Ombudsman, before the Financial Ombudsman Service was set up, my own concern centred on loans and payment protection insurance. Eight years ago to the month – in April 1999 – when addressing a Parliamentary Committee considering the future unified ombudsman scheme I said:
If I were part of a one-stop financial services ombudsman scheme, it would be very odd indeed to say to a consumer, "We can deal with a complaint you have about the insurance that you took out which backs this loan but not about the loan." I would not wish to be the ombudsman who had to explain to somebody why we could do one but not the other.
So I feel relieved to be out of this awkward position at last, particularly at a time when concern about payment protection insurance has been growing.
I am grateful for the assistance we have had from consumer-credit trade-associations and consumer groups, as well as from journalists – those working on everything from specialist trade magazines through to the regional press. They have all helped in getting the message about the ombudsman service out to communities where, until now, we have had less direct contact. We have done a great deal of work in preparing for this moment, and I very much hope we will be seen to have lived up to expectations.