ASIC today released a consultation paper to commence its review of external dispute resolution (EDR) jurisdiction over consumer complaints in cases where members have commenced legal proceedings to recover debts from consumers: Consultation Paper 172 Review: EDR jurisdiction over complaints when members commence debt recovery proceedings (CP 172).
The review seeks feedback on whether ASIC should refine its policy settings in Regulatory Guide 139 Approval and oversight of external dispute resolution schemes (RG 139) and fulfils a commitment ASIC undertook when it approved the Financial Ombudsman Service Limited’s (FOS) Terms of Reference in December 2009 to review the existing requirements in RG 139.
The policy settings under review, as outlined in RG 139.77-RG 139.79, require both EDR schemes - FOS and the Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) - to handle complaints under their Terms of Reference or Rules where members have commenced debt recovery legal proceedings. This must cover proceedings that are in their early stages, but need not cover those that have progressed beyond the complainant lodging a defence or defence and counterclaim.
This jurisdiction is primarily intended to assist complainants in hardship, especially those who may have taken out credit or margin lending products. However, it also applies where providers of other financial products have commenced debt recovery legal proceedings (i.e. insurance, investments and payment systems-related products).
ASIC Commissioner, Mr Peter Kell, said, ‘This review will help ASIC assess whether the EDR framework is working efficiently and effectively, and is part of our key priority to ensure consumers have an avenue for complaining or seeking help when they may most need it.
‘We encourage feedback from consumers and their representative groups, industry, ASIC approved EDR-schemes and other interested stakeholders’, he said.
Comments on the consultation paper are due by Monday 27 February 2012.