Brokers who have consumer complaints against them investigated by the Financial Ombudsman Scheme (FOS) in early 2005 face a fee of £550 per investigation.

Speaking at the Institute of Insurance Brokers conference, chief ombudsman Walter Merricks said the £550 case fee would apply to complaints against brokers investigated between 14 January 2005, when broker regulation begins, and 1 April 2005.

He said that as the FOS ran on a financial year cycle, brokers' first annual levy contribution to the FOS would cover the year from 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. As a result, any complaints made from 14 January to 31 March 2005 will have to be paid for per case.

From 1 April 2005, brokers would pay an annual levy, which is yet to be set.

This fee covered two complaint investigations per year against a firm, with a case fee applying to any subsequent investigations, Merricks said.

The FSA is currently consulting on the FOS's annual levies for 2004/05. It is expected that consultation for the 2005/06 levy structure, which will affect brokers, will take place in late 2004.