Central to AFCA’s key purpose and values is to provide fair, balanced and independent decision making in disputes between financial firms and consumers.

AFCA’s jurisdiction, as set out in the AFCA Complaint Resolution Scheme Rules (2018), requires that:

  • in determining a general dispute, an AFCA Decision Maker must do what is fair in all the circumstances having regard to:
    • legal principles
    • applicable industry codes or guidance
    • good industry practice; and
    • previous relevant Determinations of AFCA or Predecessor Schemes
  • in superannuation disputes, AFCA Decision Makers must make decisions having regard to the conduct of a fair and reasonable trustee.

This fairness jurisdiction is not new and echoes the jurisdiction of AFCA’s predecessor schemes. It is a jurisdiction that has existed in external dispute resolution for more than twenty years and reflects how AFCA is making decisions now.

The purpose of the Fairness Project is to provide a certainty about how AFCA assesses what is fair in a way that is clearly understood by all stakeholders.     

We are working in partnership with the University of Melbourne on an environmental scan and literature review that clearly establishes the extent of the fairness jurisdiction held by both AFCA and Ombudsman schemes internationally. We used this work to develop a fairness standard focused on fair treatment, fair dealing, fair service and fair remediation across the lifecycle of the relationship between financial firms and their customers.  

Founded in existing legal and ethical obligations we are developing a framework and fairness tool to clearly articulate our decision making jurisdiction and ensure our decision making process is clear and robustly supports the exercise of our jurisdiction by ensuring procedural fairness, consistency, transparency and fair engagement by the parties in the resolution of disputes. 

Up to this point we have been engaging widely with a broad range of stakeholders to share and road test our proposed framework and fairness tool and will be seeking formal feedback early next year. 

Keep an eye out for our consultation paper in February/March 2020!

Questions and further information

Should you wish to ask any questions, provide feedback on the proposed framework or for further general information on the Fairness Project, please contact Shannyn Carty, Senior Legal Research Analyst via email scarty@afca.org.au