8 August 2016
Media Release - #2016072, 2016

Review of external dispute resolution and complaints schemes

The terms of reference for the independent review into the financial system’s external dispute resolution and complaints framework have been released today by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer MP.

"The role, powers, governance and accountability of the existing financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework will be reviewed by the panel," Minister O’Dwyer said.

The current dispute resolution and complaints bodies in the financial sector will be examined:

  • the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS),
  • the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, and
  • the Credit & Investments Ombudsman.

"The terms of reference also allow for comprehensive consideration of the effectiveness of the existing framework, as well as consideration of different models in providing effective avenues for resolving disputes.

"The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring the three bodies are working effectively to meet the needs of users.

"The panel sought a three month extension and will now report to Government by the end of March 2017.

"The additional time will allow for in-depth consultation with stakeholders, industry, the dispute resolution and complaints schemes, peak bodies, and regional and consumer representatives.

"This review builds on the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry which sets out a suite of policies to improve Australia’s financial system," Minister O’Dwyer said.

Inquiries should be directed to EDRreview@treasury.gov.au.


Terms of Reference for the Review into Dispute Resolution and Complaints Framework

Purpose of the review

The Financial Ombudsman Service, Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and Credit and Investments Ombudsman help Australians to resolve disputes with financial services providers. The Government is committed to ensuring that these bodies are working effectively to meet the needs of users, including consumers and industry.

Terms of reference

  1. The review will examine the following dispute resolution and complaints arrangements to consider whether changes to current dispute resolution and complaints bodies in the financial sector are necessary to deliver effective outcomes for users in a rapidly changing and dynamic financial system:
    1. the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS);
    2. the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal; and
    3. the Credit and Investments Ombudsman.
  2. The review will have regard to: efficiency; equity; complexity; transparency; accountability; comparability of outcomes; and regulatory costs.
  3. The review will make recommendations on:
    1. the role, powers, governance and funding arrangements of the dispute resolution and complaints framework in providing effective complaints handling processes for users, including linkages with internal dispute resolution;
    2. the extent of gaps and overlaps between each of the bodies (including consideration of legislative limits on the matters each body can consider) and their impacts on the effectiveness, utility and comparability of outcomes for users;
    3. the role of the bodies in working with government, regulators, consumers, industry and other stakeholders to improve the legal and regulatory framework to deliver better outcomes for users; and
    4. the relative merits, and any issues that would need to be considered (including implementation considerations), of different models in providing effective avenues for resolving disputes.
  4. In making its recommendations, the review will, to the extent relevant, take into account best practice developments in dispute resolution arrangements in overseas jurisdictions and other sectors.
  5. The review will take into consideration and consult with ASIC on the concurrent review of the FOS’s small business jurisdiction.
  6. The review may make observations, but not recommendations, on the establishment of a statutory compensation scheme of last resort.

Process

The review will be led by an independent expert panel, consisting of a Chair and two members, and be supported by a secretariat from Treasury.

A final report is to be provided to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services by the end of March 2017.

The review will invite submissions from the public and consult with a range of stakeholders, including consumers and industry.