Summer, Judith Penina
Insurance law and the Financial Ombudsman Service [in 3 volumes]
University of Southampton, School of Law,
This thesis is the only study there is of the workings of the Financial Ombudsman Service ('FOS') and a comparison between court and FOS attitudes and approaches to insurance cases. A court and the FOS may decide matters differently because the FOS does not have to apply the law strictly, whilst a court does. The author of this thesis has examined the FOS and Financial Services Authority ('FSA') websites, handbooks and other material, and all of the near monthly journals of Ombudsman News ('O.N.') since the FOS began in 2001, analysing it against the law to determine the question of this thesis: whether the FOS should in fact apply the law strictly, and not allow principles of fairness and reasonableness to override the law in the particular circumstances of a case. Should certainty of outcome and of applying law established and modified over hundreds of years be sacrificed to allow the FOS to apply its overriding discretion in the interests of justice in a relatively few cases? Should both insurers and insureds be able to obtain legal advice on their relative positions, without that advice having to mention unpredictable outcomes if the ombudsman chooses not to follow the strict legal position? If the law does not offer the consumer insured enough protection, should the FOS be the forum that does, and if so, does it give enough protection? This study does not look at the decisions of the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau ('IOB') which preceded the FOS. Where a point is not dealt with below, it has not been highlighted in FOS publications to date and it is unclear how relevant IOB decisions on that point will be.
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