Under the amended FOS Terms of Reference (TOR), paragraph 6.1(d), we can refuse to consider a dispute where an Applicant is represented by a commercial agent who may receive remuneration for their service (fee-charging representative). We can exercise this discretion if:
- the fee-charging representative is engaging in inappropriate conduct which is not in the best interests of the Applicant, or
- the dispute is not accompanied by information required by FOS.
The reason for this amendment to our TOR is because there is evidence that some fee-charging representatives inappropriately utilise external dispute resolution services. This damages the integrity of the FOS process, and is not in the best interests of the Applicant.
FOS provides guidance to parties detailing the information and documentation which we require to consider Disputes, including useful resources available on our website. For this reason, FOS believes the fee-charging representative, even more than other representatives, should be familiar with the information and documentation which will be required to support their client’s Dispute, and should ensure it is provided at the time the Dispute is lodged.
We commonly receive disputes from fee-charging representatives relating to financial difficulty requests and disputed credit listings. So that FOS can consider these disputes, fee-charging representatives must now provide the following documentation at lodgement:
|Credit Listing ||Financial Difficulty |
|A copy of the Applicant’s un-redacted credit file || |
A completed statement of financial position.
|Reasons for disputing the credit listing. These reasons should be case specific. The representative should not submit a standard template. ||Reasons for their client’s financial difficulty. |
|Copies of any demand and default notices the Applicant has received. ||An outline of how their client’s circumstances will change (if they have not already done so). |
|Copies of any correspondence between the Applicant and financial services provider. ||A summary of the assistance being requested of the financial services provider. |
|Any other correspondence or documents the Applicant is seeking to rely on to support their claim. || |
|Details of what the Applicant is seeking in resolution of the dispute. The representative should not request removal of the credit listing if the representative is aware that this is not the remedy FOS would award in the circumstances. || |
You can read more about the information the fee-charging representative should provide to FOS here.
FOS can also require an Applicant to stop using the services the fee-charging representative if FOS is satisfied that the representative’s involvement is not in the best interests of the Applicant or is inconsistent with the cooperative, efficient, timely and fair resolution of the Dispute.
If the Applicant insists on using the representative, then FOS may refuse to consider the Dispute further.
More information about our approach is available in our Operational Guidelines which can be accessed here.
In September 2014 FOS released an update to the approach to Credit Listing disputes. This can be found here and contains important information for representatives and parties to a dispute.