22 March 2014

Privacy ADR in Australia

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has announced its recognition of seven external dispute resolution (EDR) schemes under the amended Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

Those schemes are
  • Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Ltd [TIO]
  • Credit Ombudsman Service Ltd [COSL]
  • Energy & Water Ombudsman (NSW) Ltd [EWON]
  • Energy & Water Ombudsman (Victoria) Ltd [EWOV]
  • Energy & Water Ombudsman Western Australia [EWOWA]
  • Financial Ombudsman Service [FOS]
  • Tolling Customer Ombudsman [TCO]
Under the Privacy Amendment (External Dispute Resolution Scheme - Transitional) Regulation 2014 a transitional 12 month exemption from the requirement to be a member of a recognised EDR scheme is in place for energy and water utilities and commercial credit providers wishing to access the credit reporting system.

COSL has meanwhile announced that "having consulted with its various stakeholders, [it] is in the final stages of finalising its 9th Edition Rules" regarding privacy-related complaints. Pending release of that edition it is using interim Rules [PDF].

COSL states that
The Credit Ombudsman Service Limited (COSL) offers consumers an accessible, independent and fair external dispute resolution (EDR) service, approved by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). COSL has almost 17,000 participating financial services providers (FSPs) who operate in a variety of financial service sectors. Participants of the scheme include credit unions, building societies, non-bank lenders, mortgage and finance brokers, financial planners, investment managers, debt services and a wide range of other financial services and product providers.
The aim of the organisation is to provide consumers with a free and impartial dispute resolution service as an alternative to legal proceedings for resolving complaints with their financial services and product providers.
We provide a free, independent and impartial dispute resolution service. We facilitate the resolution of complaints between consumers and participants of our scheme. In doing so, we provide both consumers and financial services providers with an alternative to legal proceedings for resolving financial services disputes.
We are not government-funded, nor do we regulate the financial services industry or discipline participants of our scheme.

We are required to meet certain benchmarks prescribed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and have been approved by ASIC to operate as an external dispute resolution (EDR) scheme in the financial services industry.

Participants of our scheme include non-bank lenders, finance brokers, credit unions, building societies, debt collection firms, financial planners, trustees, servicers, aggregators, mortgage managers, and many more.