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Review of the Dispute Resolution and Complaints Framework – Interim Report Response

The Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (SCT) has submitted a response to the federal government's Review of the financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework – Interim Report.

"The SCT has, for some time, been advocating for changes to the external dispute resolution (EDR) of superannuation complaints to ensure the best outcome for consumers, particularly that current consumer protection is maintained and efficiencies are realised," said Chairperson Helen Davis.

"The SCT is highly supportive of the need for change to the current EDR arrangements. It is important that the proposed changes are able to be implemented and are not ultimately abandoned as unworkable or too hard," said Ms Davis.

The SCT has concerns regarding the detail of the Interim Report's draft recommendation to establish an industry ombudsman EDR scheme for superannuation. There are issues that must be resolved prior to any decision to change the structure of EDR for superannuation:

  • Determinations need to be final upon issue (in multi-party complaints, reliance on contract law for issue of determinations is impractical);
  • Powers to obtain information from and involve third parties in the complaint resolution process are important; and
  • The decision-making 'test' for an EDR body needs to align with the fiduciary duties of trustees.

The SCT considers that the benefits for consumers – from the modernisation and improved governance arrangements being proposed in the Interim Report – can also be delivered through a statutory scheme.

A statutory scheme has the additional advantage of not removing existing consumer rights such as those of appeal to the Federal Court.

"We look forward to continued engagement with the Review Panel in this important process."