The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has moved a step closer to making its decisions public, but is being held back by fears claims management companies will use the rulings as "ammunition" against firms.
Minutes from a FOS meeting in December show decisions director Tony Boorman discussed the issue with the board, which approved a draft briefing paper to the Treasury.
But the minutes also show FOS chairman Chris Kelly reported concerns from an industry steering group about naming financial businesses. He highlighted the risk that publication of decisions would give more "ammunition" to claims management companies.
Consumer groups were in favour of full naming of firms and publishing of final decisions, the minutes said.
With the organisation set to be subject to Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation from October, it has been assessing its options on greater transparency.
However, the FOS is concerned about the logistics of publishing around 20,000 decisions a year and ensuring the identity of consumers is not revealed in any disclosures.
The FOS is also looking at ways of publishing any communications it has with the FSA or its successor, the CPMA. A decision or consultation paper on the topic will be published in the spring.
In March last year, the Ministry of Justice announced the addition of the FOS to the list of bodies subject to FOI, arguing it will "increase the public's right to access information".
Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act will be included in the Freedom Bill, set to be introduced to parliament later this month.
The issue of transparency was brought up when the FOS' industry steering group, which includes Friends Provident CEO Trevor Matthews and Legal and General director John Pollock, met in December.
Minutes of the meeting also highlighted industry fears about whether publication of the ombudsman service's thoughts on emerging trends or the actions of particular financial businesses could lead to potentially unwarranted reputation damage.
Another concern was around unintended consequences and the degree to which exposing case details could lead to other parties exploiting issues to generate new complaints.
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