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Terms of Reference

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:

    1.1. the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS);

    1.2. the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal; and

    1.3. 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:

    3.1. 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;

    3.2. 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;

    3.3. 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;

    3.4. 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; and

    3.5. the establishment, merits and potential design of a compensation scheme of last resort.

  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 will consider the merits and issues involved in providing access to redress for past disputes.

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.

Amendment to the Terms of Reference

On 3 February 2017, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services amended the Review's terms of the reference to include:

  • the making of recommendations (rather than observations) on the merits and potential design of a compensation scheme of last resort 
  • consideration of the merits and issues involved in providing access to redress for past disputes.

A report on the issues covered by the amendments to the terms of reference is due to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services by the end of June 2017.

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