You can appoint an authorised agent (or representative) to represent you at the time you make a complaint to AFCA by completing the agent authority section of the complaint form. We will only discuss your complaint with a third party once you consent, or as required by law, in order to protect your privacy.
Alternatively, you can appoint an authorised agent later using the Agent Authority form or by providing verbal authority over the phone.
Common types of agents include:
- a family member, relative or friend
- financial counsellor
- community-based or private practice solicitor
- insurance broker
- financial adviser
- Power of Attorney
- Executor or Guardian
- commercial fee-charging representatives.
Can advocates complain on my behalf?
Our processes are designed so that you can bring a complaint to AFCA without the need for assistance. However, we understand that in some circumstances you may seek, or prefer to obtain, assistance from an outside source. We accept complaints by consumer advocates, such as financial counsellors or community workers, lodged on your behalf. This requires you to give written authority for the authorised agent to act on your behalf.
Can a relative or friend complain on my behalf?
You may ask a relative or friend to act as your authorised agent or representative. The relative or friend must act in your best interests and should not have a financial interest in the complaint, as this may create a conflict of interest.
If you are concerned about the ability of a relative or friend to act in your best interests, an independent agent or representative may be more appropriate.
Commercial fee-charging representatives
There are some specialised businesses that offer to represent complainants for a fee. It is open to complainants to use the services of such a representative in making a complaint to AFCA. However, these fee-charging representatives are frequent users of our service for certain types of complaints, and so we expect a higher standard from these services.
We believe that fee-charging representatives, even more so than other representatives, should be familiar with the information and documentation that we require in support of their client’s complaint, and should ensure it is provided at the time the complaint is submitted.
If a fee-charging representative does not comply with our requirements to provide the information when the complaint is made, we may refuse to deal with the service. In which case, we will contact the complainant directly.
We have outlined the information we require fee-charging representatives to be aware of:
- General information required from a commercial fee-charging representative
- General information required for all disputes lodged
- Information required for credit listing disputes
More information about our approach to dealing with fee-charging representatives is available in our Operational Guidelines.
What authority is required to appoint an authorised agent or representative?
You can provide written authority for an agent to act on your behalf. Alternatively, we are able to take authority over the phone if you contact us.
If the account you are complaining about is in joint names, in some cases we will need all account holders to give authority. If this is not possible, please let us know so that we can determine whether we are still able to consider the complaint. There may be some circumstances where obtaining the consent of a joint account holder is not possible or required.
An Agent Authority form is available. You must complete the name of the financial firm in the space indicated on the form.
What is the role of the authorised agent during the dispute resolution process?
Agents can improve the dispute resolution process by assisting you to focus on the key issues in the complaint, respond to requests for information and help you make decisions about how to best resolve the complaint. This might include providing you with guidance about whether to accept an offer made by a financial firm, or a recommendation or determination made by us.
Agents need to understand that our processes are not adversarial. AFCA is an independent and fair external dispute resolution service. Positive communication that seeks a fair resolution is encouraged between the parties and is facilitated by AFCA.
Where does all the correspondence get sent about my complaint?
By appointing an agent or representative, you have given your consent for them to handle your complaint. This means that you have given them the authority to receive all communication and correspondence from us.
By acting on your behalf, it is expected that it will have been agreed how communication would be handled between your agent and yourself. If you have any concerns, please contact us.
What if we want to talk directly to you even if you are represented?
To form a view about a complaint, we sometimes need to conduct a full and thorough investigation. Contact with you may be necessary as part of this process. For example, it may be important to hear the details of the complaint directly from you, rather than the authorised agent.
We may contact your agent to arrange to speak with you. We ask agents to assist in organising such discussions. If we cannot reach your agent, we will contact you directly.
We may also decide to contact you directly where we believe a fee-charging representative’s involvement is not in your best interests, or is inconsistent with the cooperative, efficient, timely and fair resolution of your complaint.
Are legal costs recoverable?
We provide a service that is free for consumers and small business. It is not usually necessary for either party to be legally represented. If a complainant chooses to be represented, they will usually have to cover their legal fees themselves. Lawyers who act for complainants should make this clear to their client.
If you want to seek contributions from your financial firm for your legal costs, you should discuss the matter with us before incurring the costs. We have limited provision to award such costs, and generally we would only award up to $5,000 in costs. Contact us for more information.
Does the complaint come within our jurisdiction?
Want to be kept informed about our services?
We produce a range of publications with information about our activities and our approach to particular types of complaints.
Join our mailing list to keep updated on new publications from AFCA.