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15 December 2022

Better financial dispute resolution schemes for consumers approved

Consistent outcomes for consumers complaining about financial services are on the way.

Cabinet has approved consistent rules for the four approved financial dispute resolution schemes.

The current schemes (Banking Ombudsman scheme, Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman, Financial Dispute Resolution Service and Financial Services Complaints Ltd,) resolve complaints between consumers and financial service providers.

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The schemes are independent and each has different rules that govern disputes. Inconsistencies between the schemes have the potential to impact accessibility of the services, complaint outcomes and whether a complaint can be made.

To iron out the inconsistencies and improve the dispute services for consumers, Cabinet has agreed to:

  • increase the limit for bringing a complaint to $500,000 for all schemes;
  • set a consistent “special inconvenience” award of up to $10,000;
  • require all schemes to consider complaints about current members regardless of when the alleged misconduct occurred; and
  • set the time period after which a complaint that has been made to a provider may be brought to a scheme to two months for all schemes.

While this is a win for consumers, we think a single dispute resolution scheme (like the Australian or UK schemes) would have been preferable.

Regulations that reflect the approved changes are currently in development.

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