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information for businesses covered by the ombudsman service

This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:

how we decide cases

consistency

how does the ombudsman ensure consistency between decisions?

The fact that we may arrive at different outcomes on separate cases shouldn't be seen as surprising. This isn't a question of inconsistency - it's a matter of our looking at each complaint individually and making a decision on what we believe is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of that particular case.

There may be surface similarities between some complaints. But when we look at them in detail, we generally find that very different facts and issues are involved. This reflects the reality that everyone's personal and financial circumstances will be different.

Deciding complaints - like financial advice itself - can involve a complex balance of judgement, often based on a wide array of seemingly contradictory facts. The "right" outcome in one case will not automatically be the right answer in other "similar" cases.

However, if you think an adjudicator's view is inconsistent with the ombudsman's general approach, you can of course ask for an ombudsman's decision on your case.

We dedicate a considerable amount of resource to monitoring the quality and consistency of our work. Our decision-making processes are embedded in an intranet-based knowledge management system. And our quality management process includes a casework-wide quality control and audit mechanism. This means that internal review procedures and quality-checking systems are built in across the life-cycle of complaints.