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No decision reversal powers for new FOS independent assessor

The new independent assessor to investigate the Financial Ombudsman Service’s handling of disputes will not be allowed to review the “substance” of a FOS decision, according to a job advertisement.

ifa reported in December that a government-appointed panel had called for the establishment of an independent assessor, arguing that FOS needs to be subject to more frequent independent reviews.

FOS has now commenced the hiring process for a part-time assessor via an advertisement on Seek.com.au, which states that the role will focus on reviewing complaints around service issues in FOS's dispute handling. 

The assessor, however, will not be allowed to review the “substance” of a FOS decision.

“The independent assessor role is designed to enhance our existing internal complaints process by providing an additional independent review of complaints about FOS's service that have not been resolved through FOS's internal review process,” the ad states.

“The independent assessor will review complaints from individual consumers and financial firms on service issues relating to the handing of a dispute, and will not review the substance of a FOS decision.

“The independent assessor will not act as a review or appeal mechanism on the findings or outcomes of FOS decisions, or the substance of a dispute or jurisdictional decision.”


According to the ad, FOS is looking for someone with significant senior level experience in a legal firm, tribunal, external dispute resolution scheme, financial sector firm or government agency.

The candidate must also be able to command the respect of stakeholders within the financial sector and community as well as be comfortable with public scrutiny, the ad states.

In December, a group of advisers voiced support for the proposed establishment of an independent assessor to scrutinise FOS, saying it is “long overdue”.

FOS came under fire in 2015 when a company accused it of being biased and untrustworthy.

In a submission to a Senate committee, Dispute Assist provided several examples of cases that it claims represent evidence of FOS staff misrepresenting the facts, incorrectly interpreting its terms of reference, and pressuring applicants to accept inappropriate settlements.