In the Circular issue 15 we outlined how we ensure FOS’s decision making is open and transparent. For example, we publish Determinations and documents explaining our approach to particular types of disputes. We also explain and discuss our approaches in regular open forums and meetings with stakeholders. If a stakeholder has a concern about the approach we have taken in a Determination, we encourage them to raise the concern directly with our Ombudsmen or during regular industry or consumer meetings. This informal arrangement has been in place for some time, as have provisions for test cases in our Terms of Reference.
After extensive consultation, we have now established a more formal review mechanism to apply, in limited circumstances, where the existing arrangements cannot address a concern. The mechanism was endorsed in the recent independent review of FOS and incorporates features recommended in that review.
The review mechanism does not allow Determinations to be re-opened. Under the Terms of Reference, Determinations are final decisions on specific disputes. The mechanism provides for an assessment of whether FOS should continue to take an approach or modify it for future disputes.
The formal review mechanism is set out as the new section 19A in our Operational Guidelines. The full Operational Guidelines can be found here and at www.fos.org.au/tor.