In 2019, AFCA started the Fairness Jurisdiction Project to provide greater certainty about how AFCA assesses what is fair in a way that is clearly understood by AFCA staff, members and complainants.
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.
In May 2022, AFCA published its Fairness Jurisdiction Project Outcomes report, which outlines the resources AFCA developed to ensure its Fairness jurisdiction is well understood by its stakeholders, that it is applied consistently and independently, and in a way that is fair for all parties.
- New Fairness Jurisdiction Tool which ensures AFCA can discuss important issues for resolution with the parties in plain English.
- New decision templates to clearly explain how AFCA has applied the fairness tests in its complaint handling and why decisions made are fair in all the circumstances.
- Apprehended bias policy to ensure AFCA’s people remain impartial when working with the parties to resolve complaints.
- The AFCA Engagement Charter which clearly sets expectations of how parties should engage with each other and AFCA to ensure a fair process.
- Revised AFCA Approach library providing members and complainants with easy-to-understand information about how we handle specific types of complaints.
- New processes to calculate and capture fair outcomes once achieved.