Australian consumers and small businesses will be spared the expense and inconvenience associated with taking financial complaints to court, with the Coalition Government's Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) opening for business as of Thursday 1 November 2018.
This new one-stop shop represents a new era for financial dispute resolution, delivering free, fast and binding services for all financial complaints, whether they be related to banks, credit providers, insurance companies or superannuation funds.
Consumers and small businesses will benefit from having increased access to redress as AFCA will have significantly higher monetary limits and compensation caps than were available under the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO).
- AFCA will be able to hear consumer complaints where the value of the dispute is less than $1 million and will be able to award compensation of up to $500,000. This will be almost double the exiting limits of FOS and CIO.
- In the case of small business credit complaints, a small business will be able to have their complaint heard where it relates to a credit facility of less than $5 million and will be eligible for compensation of up to $1 million. This will be almost triple the existing limits of FOS and CIO.
- In the case of a small business primary production dispute, AFCA will be able to award compensation of up to $2 million.
- AFCA will retain an unlimited monetary jurisdiction for superannuation complaints.
The Coalition Government committed to provide $1.7 million to support AFCA's establishment, as part of the 2018-19 Budget. Its launch overhauls Australia's financial dispute resolution system, bolstering community confidence by providing consumers who have suffered a loss with greater access to free and fair dispute resolution.
The establishment of AFCA is part of the Coalition Government's plan for stronger economy and ensuring a fair go for all Australians.