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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

initial assessments as one-off decisions

can I rely on your initial assessment as representing the official ombudsman approach?

We encourage businesses we cover to consider carefully the decisions we make - and to apply our general approach to their own complaints handling. This is why we recognise that it is important for us to be consistent in the way we apply a general approach to similar types of complaint.

However, our primary focus is to resolve the individual case in front of us - rather than to produce general guidance for businesses.

This is reflected in the fact that our initial assessments do not always set out the full framework within which we have analysed the dispute. Instead, they tend to focus on those points on which we have placed particular weight in deciding the outcome of the case.

So care needs to be taken in interpreting more widely, or in a more general context, a view reached in a one-off case. And an initial assessment is not a final ombudsman decision.

Cases which may look broadly similar - perhaps involving the same financial product at around the same time - will often turn on very different points, when we start to examine the individual facts.

This is because everyone's personal and financial circumstances are different. The right outcome in one case won't automatically be the right answer in other similar-looking cases.