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Our approach

FOS approach document

About FOS

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) provides free, fair and independent dispute resolution assistance to consumers (individuals and small business owners) who are unable to resolve complaints with businesses that provide financial services. These businesses include banks, insurers, financial planners, mortgage brokers and others. We refer to these businesses as financial services providers (FSPs).

What is the FOS Approach?

The FOS Approach is a series of documents that outlines the way we look at different types of disputes. We have published similar documents before as articles in The Circular, and as bulletins and practice notes through our predecessor schemes. The aim of these documents has always been to provide practical information and explain our approach on substantive issues, but we hope you’ll find The FOS Approach easier to read and use. However, it’s important to understand that each dispute that comes to us is unique in nature, so this information is a guide only. No Determination (decision) can be seen as a precedent for future cases, and no approach document can cover everything you might want to know about key issues.

How can the FOS Approach help me?

We have created a series of documents that we hope will assist individuals, small business owners and financial services providers alike, better understand how we reach decisions about key issues involving certain topics.

Our aim is that more disputes are resolved earlier directly between the parties, with only the more complex and difficult making their way to FOS. If a dispute does come to FOS, we want to do everything we can to help the dispute resolve as quickly as possible.

We want to share the way we approach different types of disputes – the issues we will look at, the things we will consider, and the relevant Codes, legal principles, obligations and industry best practice that we will apply – so that members, consumer representatives and consumers can better understand how FOS will deal with their disputes.

If this can’t be done and the dispute comes to us, The FOS Approach is designed to help both parties better understand what we expect from them, and how we will approach their dispute. As a rule, each document contains an introduction, key summary points, a guide to our approach, a case study and useful links.

What topics are covered?

The topics we've covered are listed below. We intend to add to this library over time to cover a variety of topics.

Read our approach documents

The FOS Approach to the 2013 Code of Banking Practice
The FOS Approach to Adequacy of Statements of Advice
The FOS Approach to Assessing Special Circumstances
The FOS Approach to Awarding Interest in Insurance
The FOS Approach to Calculating Loss in Financial Advice
The FOS Approach to Cancellation of Instalment Contracts
The FOS Approach to Disputes Lodged by Guarantors
The FOS Approach to Excluding Disputes
The FOS Approach to Financial Difficulty series
The FOS Approach to Fixed Interest Investments
The FOS Approach to Insurance Broker disputes
The FOS Approach to Mortgagee Sales
The FOS Approach to Motor Vehicle Insurance Claim Delays
The FOS Approach to Non-financial Loss Claims
The FOS Approach to Responsible Lending
The FOS Approach to Section 47
The FOS Approach to Terms of Settlement