You can appoint an authorised agent to represent you at the time you lodge your dispute by completing the agent authority section of the dispute form. Alternatively, you can appoint an authorised agent at a later date using the Agent Authority form or by providing verbal authority over the phone.
Common types of representatives include: a family member or friend, financial counsellor, community-based or private practice solicitor, insurance broker, accountant, financial advisor, Power of Attorney, Executor or Guardian.
Can advocates complain on behalf of applicants?
Our processes are designed so that applicants can bring disputes to the Financial Ombudsman Service without the need for assistance. We recognise however that, in some circumstances, applicants seek, or prefer to obtain, assistance from an outside source. Hence we accept disputes lodged on behalf of applicants by consumer advocates, such as financial counsellors or community workers. This requires the applicant to give written authority for the authorised agent to act on their behalf.
Can relatives or friends complain on behalf of applicants?
Applicants may ask a relative or friend to act as their authorised agent or representative. The relative or friend must act in the best interests of the applicant and should not have a financial interest in the dispute, as this may create a conflict of interest. If the applicant is concerned about the ability of a relative or friend to act in their best interests, an independent agent or representative may be more appropriate.
Commercial fee-charging representatives
There are some specialised businesses which put their services out to the public to represent them with their disputes against their financial services provider for a fee. It is open to an applicant to use the services of such a representative in lodging a dispute at FOS, however, we have a higher standard that we expect these fee-charging representatives to meet if they wish to use our service. This is because they are generally frequent users of our service for certain types of disputes.
FOS provides guidance to parties detailing the information and documentation which we require to consider disputes, including useful resources available on our website. For this reason, FOS believes fee-charging representatives, even more than other representatives, should be familiar with the information and documentation which will be required to support their client’s dispute, and should ensure it is provided at the time the dispute is lodged.
If a fee-charging representative does not comply with our requirements to provide the information when the dispute is lodged, FOS may refuse to consider the dispute. The following links will assist fee-charging representatives with the information we require (this list will continue to be updated over time):
- General information required for all disputes lodged
- Information required for Credit Listing disputes
- Information Required for a dispute relating to a Financial Difficulty request
More information about our approach in dealing with fee-charging representatives is available in our operational guidelines, under paragraph 6.1, which you can access here.
What authority is required to appoint an authorised agent or representative?
An applicant must provide written authority for an agent to act on their behalf. Alternatively, we are able to take an applicant’s authority over the phone if the applicant contacts us.
If the account you are complaining about is in joint names, we will need all account holders to sign the form. If this is not possible, please let us know so that we can determine whether this office can consider the dispute.
An Agent Authority form (PDF format) is available to download. An applicant must complete the name of the Financial Services Provider in the spaces indicated on the form.
If you have any questions about the Agent Authority form, please call 1800 367 287 (free call) 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT.
What is the role of the authorised agent during the dispute resolution process?
Agents can facilitate the dispute resolution process by assisting the applicant to focus on the key issues in dispute, respond to requests for information and make decisions about how to best resolve the dispute, including whether to accept an offer made by a Financial Services Provider or a recommendation or determination made by us.
Agents need to understand that our processes are not adversarial. The Financial Ombudsman Service is an independent and neutral facilitator and decision-maker. Positive communication that seeks a fair resolution is encouraged between the parties and is facilitated by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Where does all the correspondence get sent about my dispute?
By appointing an agent or representative, you have given your consent for them to handle your dispute. This means that you have given them the authority to receive all communications and correspondence from us. By acting on your behalf, it is expected that it will have been agreed how communication will be handled by your agent and you. If you have any concerns, please call 1800 367 287 (free call) 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT.
What if we want to talk directly to an applicant who is represented by an agent?
In order to make a decision about a dispute, the Financial Ombudsman Service needs to conduct a full and thorough investigation of the issues raised. Contact with an applicant may be necessary as part of this process. For example, there may be a question about language ability or it may be important to hear the details of the dispute directly from an applicant. Agents may be contacted by the Financial Ombudsman Service to make arrangements to speak with the applicant. We ask agents to assist in organising such discussions.
We may also decide to contact the applicant directly where we believe that a fee-charging representative's involvement is not in the best interests of the applicant or is inconsistent with the cooperative, efficient, timely and fair resolution of the dispute.
Are legal costs recoverable?
Legal costs are not recoverable, even if the applicant is successful. For further information, please call 1800 367 287 (free call) 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT.
Does the dispute come within our jurisdiction?
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The Financial Ombudsman Service produces a range of publications containing information about our activities and our approach to particular types of disputes. See the panel (right) for details on how to join our mailing list.