In the case of Barry and Julie Clark against Focus Asset Management, Judge Ross Cranston ruled that the FOS’ use of the phrase “full and final settlement” in relation to the award it handed to the couple refers only to a final stage in the FOS process, and does not mean the case cannot be taken to court as well.
This contradicts an earlier judgement in 2010 which found that an investor could not pursue a claim in the courts after winning at the FOS.
In response to the latest ruling – which could see Focus Asset Management pursued for more than £500,000 – the FOS has said it will now change the wording on its final judgements to alert consumers to the fact they can take their claim to the courts.
A spokesperson for the FOS said: “We will have to change the wording. It’s only fair.
“We have to represent an accurate picture of the situation and be seen to be as transparent as possible. It is important for people to know their rights.”
Lawyers have warned the ruling against Focus Asset Management will be “bad news” for advisers, who could face two actions against them for the same piece of advice.
A spokesperson for law firm Regulatory Legal said: “This matter will be subject to an appeal as the law now conflicts. Investors and firms are not helped by the uncertainty and clarification is very much needed.”