FCA Publishes Paper on SME Access to the FOS


The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA“) is considering allowing Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (“SMEs“) access to Financial Ombudsman Service (“FOS“). On January 22, 2018, the FCA published a consultation paper, available here, exploring this option.

After speaking with SMEs, the FCA found that SMEs struggle to resolve disputes with financial firms through the courts and have no other means to seek redress.

The paper considers what size of SME should be allowed to use FOS, an “eligible complainant.” This term will be defined as a business that: is too large to be a micro-enterprise, has an annual turnover below £6.5 million, has a balance sheet not exceeding £5 million and has less than 50 employees. The FCA is also considering allowing charities and trusts of a similar size to be eligible complainants.

The FCA is also proposing that guarantors be eligible complainants. This will allow entities who provide security or guarantees to SMEs to be able to lodge a complaint with FOS.