Fact Sheets | Legal Action
Disputes: External Dispute Resolution
All credit providers (including finance brokers and debt collectors) must be members of an External Dispute Resolution scheme (EDR). This means that if you have a dispute then you can go to EDR about your dispute in most circumstances. You can talk to a financial counsellor for help with this.
What is External Dispute Resolution?
EDR is the main way to resolve a dispute and is much better than going to Court because:
It is free for consumers;
It is independent
You can lodge a dispute even if you are being sued as long as judgment has not been given
All enforcement action stops while EDR considers your dispute
The decision of the EDR Scheme is binding on the EDR member if you accept the decision. If you don’t accept the decision you can still go to Court (subject to any time limits)
EDR Schemes can decide on repayment arrangements due to financial hardship under the Credit Law
There are upper limits on the amount in dispute that industry ombudsman schemes can investigate. Currently these limits are $500,000 for both the Financial Ombudsman Service and Credit Ombudsman Service.
How do I take my case to an EDR scheme?
The first step in resolving a dispute is to talk to the provider. If you can't resolve the problem, then lodge a dispute with an EDR scheme.
Credit providers, brokers and debt collectors
There are two EDR Schemes in the credit area. They are:
Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) - Ph : 1300 780 808
Credit Ombudsman Service (COSL). Ph: 1800 138 422
You can check which EDR Scheme applies by ringing the Financial Ombudsman Service on 1300 780 808 or searching their websites.
You need to lodge a dispute in writing in EDR. Do not just ring EDR as your dispute is not lodged if you ring. If possible you should lodge the dispute online, as it will be received straightaway. Keep a copy of your dispute form.
If you are at risk of:
Court proceedings being commenced against you; or
Court proceedings have commenced but a judgment in Court has not been obtained;
Then you should lodge in EDR immediately and seek urgent advice.
If your dispute is with a telco, contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman - 1800 062 058
If your dispute is with a utility company, contact your local energy and water ombudsman. There are independent ombudsman schemes in every state.
Insurance and Investments
If your dispute is about insurance or investment advice contact the Financial Ombudsman Service - 1300 780 808.
What will happen after I send my complaint to an EDR scheme?
If you ask the scheme to investigate your dispute, you will have to authorise them to disclose the details you have shared with them to the provider. They may request additional information and conduct an investigation as they try to resolve the dispute in a way that both parties accept.
This process may take a number of months. If a resolution is found, you and your provider will be required to enter into a written agreement.
If you and your provider continue to disagree, you can object to the proposed resolution in writing and ask for further examination of the dispute, and a formal decision from the ombudsman.
Rulings from the dispute resolution schemes include details about the rights, obligations and liabilities of both parties, and are binding on the provider. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the process, you may take the matter to a court for hearing and determination.
Court action can be expensive and you may not have a better chance of success. You should get legal advice before rejecting a Finding or Recommendation of any EDR scheme.