Australia’s new dispute resolution body to accept complaints dating back to 2008

Maria Nikolova

The Australian Government proposes to widen AFCA’s remit so that the body accepts complaints dating back to January 1, 2008.

The recently launched Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) has earlier today posted a comment regarding the final report from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry and the response by the Government.

In particular, AFCA welcomes Government plans to expand the remit of AFCA for a period of 12 months to accept applications for disputes dating back to January 1, 2008 (the period covered by the Royal Commission) for disputes that fall within AFCA’s thresholds.

AFCA advises consumers and small business owners that have such legacy disputes to be patient, as AFCA will be shortly issuing guidance which explains what this change means for them and when and how to lodge their complaint. In the meantime, consumers and small business owners are asked not to lodge a complaint or call AFCA yet, but await this guidance.

AFCA started operating on November 1, 2018. The new body has taking over from the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. AFCA operates with higher compensation limits than its predecessors — for consumers ($500,000), for small businesses ($1 million) and primary producers ($2 million).

Financial firms including AFS licensees that provide financial services to retail clients, credit licensees, most credit representatives, superannuation trustees and unlicensed product issuers are required by law to join AFCA.

Let’s note that, in its Response to the Royal Commission Final Report, the Government agrees to place an obligation on Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) holders to take reasonable steps to co-operate with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) in the resolution of disputes. AFSL holders will have to fully co-operate with AFCA in the resolution of a dispute, including making available to AFCA all relevant documents and records relating to the issues in dispute.

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