There is likely to be a small but not insignificant flurry of final responses sent before 1 June regarding high value complaints as firms try to avoid the likely increase in the FOS award limit from £100k to £150k which will apply from January 2012.

The FSA proposed in CP 10/21 to increase the FOS maximum money award limit to £150k for complaints made on or after 1 January 2012.  Under DISP 2.8.2, complaints must be referred to FOS within six months of the firm sending its final response.  To avoid the higher limit likely to apply for any complaint subsequently referred to FOS in 2012, final responses will have to be sent by 1 June.

The FSA planned to publish a policy statement with revised Handbook text on the FOS limit (and other complaints handling rules) in April and so we can expect it any day now.  (A press release today said ”the FSA is expected to publish its new complaints handling rules imminently“).  Unless the new rules contain transitionary provisions to prevent them doing so, firms can issue final responses by 1 June without fear of criticism for what might be thought a cynical approach as DISP guidance expressly states that ”The respondent should aim to resolve complaints at the earliest possible opportunity…” (DISP 1.4.3G)