ASIC approves AFCA rules change

ASIC has approved changes to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority rules for legacy complaints.

The ASIC approval gives effect to the AFCA authorisation condition introduced by the government earlier this year.

Under the government's additional condition, AFCA is now required to provide access to the AFCA scheme for consumers and small businesses harmed by financial misconduct as far back as January 2008.

AFCA will be able to deal with certain complaints about misconduct which it could not previously deal with.

AFCA's new rules require that an eligible legacy complaint relates to a compulsory member of the AFCA scheme, is not an excluded complaint and is made during the lodgement period between July 1 2019 and June 30 2020.

ASIC has an oversight role over AFCA but the scheme is independent and has its own internal processes for the management of complaints. ASIC has no role in individual complaints handling under the AFCA scheme and will not intervene in AFCA's decision making.

AFCA today welcomed ASIC's announcement that it had approved the changes.

AFCA chief ombudsman and chief executive David Locke said: "AFCA's ability to consider legacy complaints dating back to 2008 provides people with the opportunity to now have their matters independently reviewed."

AFCA has already identified thousands of complaints that could possibly be made to AFCA, he added.

Locke said that those complaints were lodged but deemed outside the jurisdiction of the current AFCA scheme.

"However, there will also be many matters that were never lodged with the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Credit and Investments Ombudsman or the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal that may now be brought to us," Locke added.

"We also expect that these matters are likely to be highly complex, and further complicated by the number of years that have passed since the issue occurred."

AFCA will still refer complaints back to firms for resolution, Locke said.

"It is our expectation that firms will proactively resolve these legacy matters themselves where possible, as part of their commitment to justly remediate the misconduct of the past and meet the community's expectations of fairness," he said.

"Where firms are unable to satisfactorily resolve the complaints, AFCA will start investigating these matters from 1 October 2019."

Read more: AFCAASICAustralian Financial Complaints AuthorityDavid Locke
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