Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) Complaints
TABLE OF CONTENTS
On 1 November 2018, AFCA became the one stop successor entity of the following defunct tribunals:
- Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS);
- Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT); and
- Credit & Investment Ombudsman (CIO).
AFCA is styled as a free and optional despite resolution service for consumers and small businesses against financial services providers. It is designed to provide fast, free and binding dispute resolution services for consumers of financial products and services. In the first instance AFCA will require you to write to the financial services provider directly with particulars of the complaint. If no informal resolution is made within 45 days from the date of your complaint you are at liberty to proceed toward filing your complaint via the AFCA website.
Lodging a complaint via AFCA has several important benefits over the traditional court process, namely:
- It is a no costs jurisdiction for consumers – this means that if you lose you case, you will not have to pay for the other sides legal costs which are typically applied in most civil litigation. Conversely, the financial services provider may be required to contribute toward your legal fees if your case is successful;
- Making and conducting an AFCA complaint is an informal process without strict procedural or evidentiary requirements as would be required in a traditional court setting;
- AFCA does not require parties to appear in person as all evidence and submissions are done “on the papers”, i.e. by way of documents which are usually exchanged by email; and
- Most disputes are resolved within 12 months, and many in less than 6 months depending upon complexity of the subject matter.
AFCA’s jurisdictional limits under its Terms of Reference are as follows:
- Credit facility complaints involving facility limits up to $5 million;
- Complaints with a loss up to $1 million; and
- Grant compensation up to $500,000.
It is important to note that if you decide to commence an AFCA complaint that you cannot have your complaint heard before a civil court until your AFCA complaint is finalised. AFCA will typically make a preliminary assessment of each case before it makes a final determination. The matter will only proceed to determination if one of the parties rejects the preliminary assessment, at which point it is referred to a panel or ombudsman for a determination.
AFCA is required to refer serious contraventions of law by financial service providers to appropriate federal authorities such as ASIC, APRA or the ATO.
MC Lawyers are experts in conducting AFCA complaints. Please contact us for a free no-obligation assessment of your case.