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Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Publication: Proactively settled complaints to continue


On 12 June 2024, the FOS announced that it would continue its proactive settlement scheme following a couple of years of trialling – with some further changes coming into effect from 24 June 2024.  

The proactive settlement scheme was introduced by the FOS to help financial businesses resolve complaints with consumers is a less time-consuming way. The scheme allows firms to make an offer to resolve a complaint before the FOS have carried out a full investigation. This allows firms the chance to review their position early in the process with the FOS, with complaints that are resolved in this manner being recorded as “proactively settled”, rather than having a “change in outcome” recorded against the firm.  

This could benefit a firm reputationally, as the FOS complaint data would show that it had less overturned complaints. This also offers the advantage of reconsidering a complaint where new information had come to light – for example, where the FOS had upheld a complaint in favour of the consumer on a previous similar complaint, to avoid have multiple complaints recorded as a “change in outcome” the firm could look to proactively settle the later complaints.  

The changes to the scheme coming into effect from 24 June 2024 include: 

  • Businesses will need to make an offer to proactively settle a complaint within 14 days of the complaint reaching the investigation stage at the FOS. Previously the time allowed for firms during the trial period had been 21 days.  
  • The FOS will now review the offers made as part of the scheme to ensure they meet the criteria required, and if not, it will advise the firm they will consider the complaint as per the usual process. 
  • If a firm is looking to proactively settle complaints after 24 June 2024, it would need to: 
  • make its offer within 14 calendar days and make it clear this was in line with the proactive settlement scheme,  
  • the offer would need to be a separate offer to anything previously proposed to the consumer,  
  • provide an explanation of the reasoning behind the offer, and  
  • for this to be recorded as “proactively settled”, this would need to be accepted by the consumer.  

Thistle has in-house experts who are able to assist your firm regarding its complaint handling processes, including helping your firm to understand and implement the above changes in your complaint handling policy and procedure documents, providing assistance with any complaints received by your firm, or by providing further guidance and advice on the proactive settlement scheme or the FOS complaint process in general.