A recent ruling by the Financial Ombudsman Service - a British regulatory body set up by law to help settle individual disputes between consumers and financial firms - may have set borrowers one point ahead in their ongoing dispute with lenders over unfair lending practices related to disparate standard variable rates (SVRs) for mortgages.

The Financial Ombudsman threw out an appeal made by U.K.-based mortgage lender Halifax in which the company denied that existing borrowers are forced to pay higher rates than those currently offered by the lenders. The FOS has not acted favorably to Halifax in the recent past: late last month the regulatory group ruled that Halifax's capped-rate mortgage should be linked to the lower 5% SVR that is now offered to new customers.

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