Appeal Court Says Financial Dispute Service Can Use the Word ‘Ombudsman’


A seven-year stoush between Financial Services Complaints Ltd (FSCL) and the Chief Ombudsman – over its refusal to let FSCL use the word ‘ombudsman’ – has concluded, with the dispute resolution service winning in the Appeal Court.

In 2015 the FSCL asked then Chief Ombudsman – Dame Beverley Wakem – if it could use the word ‘ombudsman’. She refused saying it is protected by Parliament under the 1975 Ombudsmen Act – meaning the word cannot be used without permission.

The decision was reconsidered in 2016 by the then new Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier – and refused on two further occasions.

At the Appeal Court on 15 June, a panel of three judges sided with FSCL saying the only lawful decision the Chief Ombudsman could have made was to grant the company the permission it sought.

Susan Taylor, FSCL's CEO will soon also be known as the organisation's Financial Ombudsman.
Susan Taylor, FSCL’s CEO is happy with appeal court decision.

“It is not in FSCL’s interests, nor the interests of justice generally, to allow this matter to continue,” said the judgment.

Susan Taylor, FSCL’s CEO, says she will soon be known as the organisation’s Financial Ombudsman.

“We are now waiting for the Chief Ombudsman’s official consent – he has been directed by the court to do that – and then a formal announcement will be made,” says Taylor.

A recent law change means anyone wanting to use the name ‘ombudsman’ will now need permission from the Minister of Justice, not the Chief Ombudsman.

FSCL has 7,000 financial service providers in its scheme, the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman has 4,600 members, and the Banking Ombudsman has 19 members.