On 20 April 2016, the Australian Government announced a review of the financial system’s external dispute resolution and complaints framework. An expert panel comprised of Professor Ian Ramsay, Ms Julie Abramson and Mr Alan Kirkland is undertaking the review. The review is being conducted to ensure that Australia’s external dispute resolution framework effectively meets the needs of users of the financial system. External dispute resolution provides an avenue for people to resolve their disputes without going through the formal legal system. The panel has been asked to examine the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit & Investments Ombudsman and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal and consider whether changes to these bodies are necessary to deliver effective outcomes for users in a rapidly changing and dynamic financial system. The Terms of Reference require consideration of the:
- role, powers, governance and funding arrangements of the three bodies;
- extent of gaps and overlaps between the bodies;
- bodies’ role in working with government, regulators, consumers, industry and other stakeholders to improve the framework to deliver better user outcomes; and
- relative merits and any issues associated with different models in resolving disputes.
The panel released an issues paper seeking information from interested stakeholders on the issues discussed in the paper and any other issues identified by stakeholders. The submissions the panel receives informed the draft recommendations in its interim report, which was released 6 December 2016. The panel will provide its final report to Government by 31 March 2017.