Dispute resolution

Financial firms* must have a dispute resolution system that consists of:

  • internal dispute resolution (IDR) procedures that meet the standards or requirements made or approved by ASIC; and
  • membership of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

*ASIC Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (RG 267) sets out who must have a dispute resolution system and which financial firms must be members of AFCA.

Internal dispute resolution (IDR)

Regulatory Guide 271 Internal dispute resolution (RG 271) sets out how financial firms that are required to comply with IDR requirements can meet their obligations. The requirements relate to matters such as how firms must record and respond to complaints, and the timeframes for doing so.

Note: RG 271 applies to complaints received after 5 October 2021. Regulatory Guide 165 Licensing: Internal and external dispute resolution (RG 165) applies to complaints received by financial firms before 5 October 2021. We will withdraw RG 165 on 5 October 2022.

Internal dispute resolution data reporting 

Certain financial firms are required to report data to ASIC on complaints managed through their IDR procedure under RG 271.

More about IDR data reporting

External dispute resolution (EDR)

Regulatory Guide 267 Oversight of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (RG 267) sets out which financial firms must be members of AFCA and how ASIC will perform its oversight role in relation to AFCA.

AFCA is a single dispute resolution scheme for financial services and commenced operations on 1 November 2018. AFCA can resolve complaints that a financial firm could not resolve at IDR.

AFCA replaces the Financial Ombudsman Service Limited (FOS), Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) and the statutory Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT), the predecessor schemes.

AFCA can consider complaints about:

Notifying ASIC of changes to your AFCA membership

You must inform ASIC in writing about changes to your AFCA membership.

This includes circumstances where:

  • you fail to renew your AFCA membership,
  • you no longer require AFCA membership; or
  • AFCA has terminated your membership of the scheme.

More about your ongoing AFS obligations

Predecessor dispute resolution schemes

ASIC approved EDR schemes

Prior to the commencement of AFCA, there were two schemes approved under the Corporations Act and the National Consumer Credit Protection Act operating in the Australian financial and credit industries.

They were:

  1. Financial Ombudsman Service Limited (FOS)
  2. Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO)

Over the years, ASIC approved a total of 8 EDR schemes. These schemes were approved under ASIC Regulatory Guide 139 Approval and oversight of external dispute resolution schemes (RG 139). This guide provides the framework for the approved versions of the FOS terms of reference and CIO rules.

RG 139 will remain in force until all those complaints are closed. At that time, we will withdraw RG 139.

On 1 July 2008, FOS was formed by the merger of 3 pre-existing ASIC-approved EDR schemes:

  • the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman (BFSO);
  • the Insurance Ombudsman Service Limited (IOS); and
  • the Financial Industry Complaints Service (FICS).

Two other pre-existing ASIC-approved EDR schemes also joined FOS:

  • the Credit Union Dispute Resolution Centre (CUDRC); and
  • the Insurance Brokers Disputes Limited (IBDL).

When the then ASIC-approved Financial Co-operative Dispute Resolution Scheme (FCDRS) wound down its operations in 2009, some of its members joined FOS while others joined CIO.

Superannuation Complaints Tribunal

The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) was an independent tribunal set up by the Commonwealth Government to deal with complaints about superannuation funds, annuities and deferred annuities, and retirement savings accounts.

The SCT has ceased operations.

Open complaints at a predecessor scheme

If a consumer has a complaint with FOS, CIO or the SCT, that complaint will continue to be dealt with by that scheme. This means that:

  • All FOS disputes that were received by FOS before 1 November 2018 and that are open on or after 1 November 2018 will be handled under the existing FOS Terms of Reference.
  • All CIO disputes that were received by the CIO before 1 November 2018 and that are open on or after 1 November 2018 will be handled under the existing CIO Rules.
  • All SCT complaints that were received by the SCT before 1 November 2018 and are open on or after 1 November 2018 will be handled under the SCT’s jurisdiction.

Dispute resolution and consumers

Information about dispute resolution for consumers is on our consumer website Moneysmart.

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Last updated: 15/02/2023 03:00