The Association of IFAs (AIFA) will step up its fight against the financial ombudsman (FOS) over its rule of charging advisers a fee even when they are cleared of any wrongdoing.
It comes after the FOS announced its case fee will remain at £500 until at least March 2011. The FOS also said it would not be extending the number of free cases - currently three - advisers are allowed each year.
AIFA first raised its concerns in October last year, dubbing the FOS a "second tier regulator" and calling for the introduction of a "no loss, no fee" rule.
"If a case is found in the adviser's favour, a case fee should not apply," AIFA policy director Andrew Strange says. "This issue will continue to be part of our work in 2010.
"The FOS must focus on its role as a dispute resolution body, rather than be seen as something of a consumer champion."
AIFA says the FOS should introduce a system where advisers are not charged a case fee when they are cleared of giving improper advice.
Currently, firms are charged a flat fee for each complaint made against them, in addition to their annual levy, regardless of whether the ombudsman rules in their favour.
Case fees make up 80% of the FOS's current spending, and AIFA says it is unfair for innocent advisers to be contributing such a large percentage of its income.
In February 2008, a County Court judge ruled the FOS was wrong to charge an adviser a case fee when the case was rejected by the FOS.
Judge Rutherford, of Trowbridge County Court, ruled the way the FOS forces firms to pay the costs of dealing with a complaint even if it is rejected was "unfair in principle and in practice".
The case related to advisers Brian and Dolly Pickering, of Wiltshire-based Heather Moor & Edgecomb, and their dispute with the FOS over £1,440 in case fees. The couple contended they shouldn't have to pay the fees because the ombudsman rejected the complaints.
The FOS appealed against Rutherford's decision, winning in the High Court in June 2008.
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