INSURANCE LAW AND THE FINANCIAL OMBUDSMAN SERVICE. Judith P Summer PhD. Informa, London (2010) xxiv and 194 pp, plus 220 pp Appendices and 10 pp Index. Hardback £280.
Consumer insurance law since the formation of the Insurance Ombudsman Bureau in 1981 has largely been shaped by the approach taken by ombudsmen to the myriad cases referred to it for arbitration. Now that all regulated insurers are subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the Financial Ombudsman Service, even fewer consumer insurance cases reach the courts. The ombudsman’s remit is to decide cases based on what an ombudsman considers to be “fair and reasonable” in all the circumstances, taking into account the relevant law, regulations, regulators’ rules, guidance and standards, codes of practice and (where appropriate) what the ombudsman considers to have been good industry practice at the relevant time. This gives ombudsmen greater flexibility when deciding cases where the strict law might result in a harsher approach.
There has been a number of insurance law books that seek to explain the ombudsman’s approach. Some contain a section on the Financial Ombudsman Service, for instance, Legh-Jones, Birds and Owen (eds), MacGillivray on Insurance Law, 11th edn (London, 2008). Others, including Heather Thomas, The Regulation of Insurance Brokers and Intermediaries (London, 2004), and Peter Tyldesley and Saira Paruk, the Chartered Insurance Institute’s fact file publication The Financial Ombudsman Service and general insurance (London, 2006), have attempted to provide an overview of the procedure and practice. The Law Commission has also recently, in its consultation papers on the reform of insurance law, summarised the ombudsman’s approach across a number of areas in considerable depth. Although the Financial Ombudsman Service itself publishes case studies and articles in ombudsman news, setting out its approach to the wide variety of insurance products it deals with, and its website contains technical guides and fact sheets on many aspects of its work, to date there has been no definitive book that brings it all together in one volume.
LLOYD’S MARITIME AND COMMERCIAL LAW QUARTERLY