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New dispute resolution process

FOS has a new process for resolving disputes, effective from 1 July 2015.

Our new process, with fewer ‘touch points’ and earlier, more active engagement between FOS staff and both parties to a dispute, enables a simpler, faster and improved experience for both applicants and financial services providers.

The new dispute process involves:

  • A new process to fast-track decisions for simpler and low-value disputes.
  • A new registration and referral process to give financial services providers a final opportunity to resolve their dispute directly with their customers before the FOS investigation begins.
  • Provision of specialist expertise earlier in the dispute process, and the reduction of multiple ‘touch points’ and process stages.
  • A more efficient financial difficulty dispute process, to enhance and streamline our approach and processes.
  • A new format for decisions that more effectively communicates the outcomes of disputes to both applicants and financial services providers.

What does the new process mean for you?

For people lodging disputes

When you first lodge your dispute we will explain what happens next.

Before we begin our investigation, we will register your dispute with us and check whether you have already complained to your financial service provider (FSP):

  • If you have not already complained directly to your FSP we will refer your dispute to them. From the date of referral, they will have 45 days to resolve the dispute with you. This 45 day period is known as Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR). The period for disputes involving financial difficulty is 21 days. If the matter is not resolved by your FSP in this period, we will commence our investigation.
  • If you have already gone through the IDR process with your financial services provider and your dispute has not been resolved, we will register your dispute, let the FSP know that you have lodged it with us and give them a further 21 days to try and resolve the matter directly with you.  At the end of this period, if the matter remains unresolved, we will commence our investigation.
  • Throughout this registration and referral stage we will continue to track the progress of your dispute while your FSP is working with you to resolve your dispute.

In most cases you will deal directly with a single FOS staff member, who will update you regularly about the progress of your dispute (Case Management), unless a decision is needed by an Ombudsman, Adjudicator or Panel.

We will ask you to provide only the information we need, and work with you to make communicating with us as easy as possible.

For financial services providers

Before we begin our investigation, we will provide a referral period for you to resolve a matter directly with your customer:

  • If a customer has previously complained to you and IDR has been completed, your referral period will be 21 days (Registration & Referral). If a matter has not been resolved within this period, you will need to provide FOS and your customer with your response to the dispute and all relevant information.
  • If a customer has not previously complained to you or IDR has not been completed, your referral period will be 45 days (Registration & Referral). The referral period for disputes involving financial difficulty is 21 days. If a matter has not been resolved within this period, you will need to provide FOS and your customer with your IDR response.
  • When a complaint remains unresolved on the day after the relevant referral period, it will be referred to a case worker, you will need to have provided all relevant information to us, and case management will commence immediately. You will have a short period of time at the beginning of case management to provide any additional information required by FOS. This timeframe will depend on whether a complaint had been through IDR before being lodged with FOS.

In most cases you will deal directly with a single FOS staff member, unless a decision is needed by an Ombudsman, Adjudicator or Panel.

We have created distinct streams, ensuring disputes are considered efficiently and effectively by the appropriate subject matter expert (Case Management).

We will request and gather only the information we need and will facilitate timely document exchange.

Where case conferences (Fast Track) and conciliation calls (Standard & Complex and Financial Difficulty) are to be held, they will be scheduled as early as possible, giving you and your client the opportunity to discuss and agree on terms of settlement.