Government opens consultation on AFCA super complaints

24 May 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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The government has released a consultation on amending the Corporations Act to allow the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to hear complaints regarding superannuation. 

This would apply whether the complaint met the definition of super complaints in the Corporations Act and reinstated the original policy intent. 

This followed a Federal Court decision in October 2022 in MetLife that a complaint relating to super could only be brought to AFCA if it met the definition of superannuation complaint, which the government said was “contrary to the original policy intent”. 

The MetLife versus AFCA case related to whether AFCA had jurisdiction to determine a complaint regarding MetLife’s non-payment of a benefit under an insurance policy issued to the trustee of a super fund. The Court ruled that AFCA did not have the jurisdiction as it did not fall into one of 10 classifications to be classed as a superannuation complaint.

The government’s consultation said: “The policy intent of Division 3 of Part 7.10A of the Corporations Act is to provide AFCA with additional statutory powers to manage superannuation-related complaints effectively. It is not intended to limit the complaints that may be brought under the AFCA scheme.

“The MetLife decision has led to AFCA being unable to consider certain complaints about insurance policies held inside superannuation which it would otherwise be able to determine.”

If the changes went ahead, a complaint relating to super may be made to AFCA even if the complaint did not meet the definition of a super complaint and special rules would apply. 

Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones, said: “The legislation will clarify that AFCA can consider complaints that ‘relate to superannuation’ in line with its established practice prior to the MetLife decision. 

“The amendments will apply retrospectively to ensure that consumers do not lose access to external dispute resolution and consumers who have had their complaints paused will be able to have their claims considered by AFCA as intended when AFCA was established.”

Submissions to the consultation could be lodged until 16 June. 

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