Stephen Kosmin successfully defends the Financial Ombudsman Service’s approach to “elective professional client” classifications


On 26 September 2022, Mr Justice Murray refused Charles Street Securities Europe LLP permission to claim judicial review in respect of a jurisdiction decision of the Financial Ombudsman Service. Stephen Kosmin successfully acted for the Ombudsman Service.

The Interested Party, Mr Rees, had complained to the Ombudsman Service regarding investments in shares of unlisted companies between 2006 and 2009, which had been presented to him by Charles Street. The Ombudsman held that Mr Rees’ complaint fell within the Ombudsman Service’s jurisdiction.

Charles Street contended that the Ombudsman had applied the wrong test when considering whether the interested party, Mr Rees, was properly classified as a “elective professional client” at the time of his complaint to the Ombudsman Service and as an “intermediate customer” under prior transitional provisions. Mr Justice Murray ruled that Charles Street’s challenge did not meet the threshold for the grant of permission to claim judicial review.

The judgment is notable for (i) the High Court’s adoption of the approach to jurisdictional questions of Mr Justice Ouseley in R (Chancery (UK) LLP) v The Financial Ombudsman Service [2015] EWHC 407 (Admin), in which Stephen Kosmin also acted successfully for the Ombudsman Service, and (ii) the rejection of Charles Street’s submissions that the classification of an “elective professional client” fell to be assessed objectively, rather than with reference to the level of care with which a firm conducts its own classification of a client.

A copy of the judgment can be accessed here.

The claim will proceed to a substantive hearing on other grounds.