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Under the new Financial Services and Markets Act, companies will be able to challenge Financial Service Association's (FSA) regulatory and disciplinary decisions at an independent tribunal.
The Financial Services and Markets Tribunal will provide an independent check on the FSA. The authority's new responsibilities, which came into effect on Saturday (1 December), include the regulation of all mainstream financial services in the UK. This means that financial service providers will have recourse to the tribunal to challenge any FSA decisions which affect them.
"In the past, different regulators have had different ideas of appropriate levels of fines" Roger Best, Clifford Chance
According to Clifford Chance litigation partner Roger Best, the main difference between the old and new systems is that the tribunal brings the adjudication of disciplinary action under one roof instead of having a separate tribunal for each regulator. Best said: "This means that there is the degree of consistency that you would expect to get from a single tribunal. In the past, different regulators have had different ideas of appropriate levels of fines." The other significant difference is that the tribunal will be a public hearing and companies that are subject to enforcement action may find that reputational damage is done before a verdict is reached. "This will make companies more cautious, and it may mean that they put more effort into killing it at an earlier stage," said Best.