How we work

Financial Dispute Resolution Service is an independent dispute resolution scheme to help consumers to resolve financial disputes. The scheme is free for consumers to use.

Financial Dispute Resolution Service has an Advisory Council to monitor and advise the scheme. The Advisory Council is made up of five members: an independent chair, two industry representatives and two consumer representatives. Members of the Advisory Council are appointed for a two year term, but may serve on the Council for longer periods. 

As part of Financial Dispute Resolution Services' commitment to international best practice for dispute resolution, it has an independent panel to call on when an expert opinion is required by the Scheme Adjudicator. Each of the panel members is carefully selected for their expertise in their respective field.

Financial Dispute Resolution Service also has in-house experts specialising in conflict management.

The complaints process at Financial Dispute Resolution Service

Financial Dispute Resolution Service has a multi-level process which aims to resolve disputes as early as possible and if unable to do so is able to make a formal decision.

The stages are:

1. Enquiry and Early Resolution
2. Investigation, Facilitation and Resolution
3. Formal Adjudication.

Enquiry and Early Resolution

When a consumer contacts us, our first step is ensuring that their financial service provider (Scheme Member) has been made aware of the complaint and has an opportunity to resolve it. 

If the consumer has not already made a complaint with the Scheme Member, Financial Dispute Resolution Service will provide the consumer with the Scheme Member’s contact details and the complaint will be referred to the Scheme Member's internal complaint process. Financial Dispute Resolution Service will provide the consumer with some guidance on how to make their complaint and if needed, we will assist the consumer lodge his/her complaint.

If the consumer has already made a complaint to the Scheme Member and is not satisfied with their response, or two months have passed since they made the complaint, we will open a complaint file. Our expert team then obtains all the relevant information from the consumer.

This information is sent to the Scheme Member who is asked to provide their version of events or agree to settle the complaint.

The Scheme Member has 21 days to do either of the above.

Investigation, Facilitation and Resolution

If the Scheme Member declines to resolve the complaint and once their response is received, a copy of their response is provided to the consumer and an assessment is undertaken by our expert team to decide the most suitable way to deal with the complaint.  The choices are:

a. Facilitation
b. Conciliation
c. Adjudication.


The Facilitation phase is used to try and guide the parties to an agreement in an informal but assisted manner. At the successful completion of this stage (i.e. agreement is reached) the parties sign a settlement agreement that binds both parties.


The Conciliation phase is mediation where the conciliator is permitted to have input into the content of the complaint as well as the process.  This stage is undertaken by a Resolution Practitioner who has completed formal mediation training. At the successful completion of this stage (i.e. agreement is reached) the parties sign a settlement agreement that binds both parties.

If the complaint cannot be resolved through facilitation or mediation, it moves into the Adjudication stage, which is a formal decision-making process. 


Formal Adjudication

The Adjudication stage is undertaken by the Resolution Practitioner and the Adjudicator. 

All information that is needed to make a formal decision is obtained (including such items as reference materials or an expert opinion).  This information is provided to both parties.

Working with the Resolution Practitioner, the Adjudicator drafts a formal decision with reference to the law, good industry practice and what is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances. The draft includes the decision the Adjudicator is proposing to make.

The draft adjudication is provided to both parties and comments are requested. The Adjudicator takes the parties’ comments into account and issues the final decision.

At the completion of this stage the Scheme Member is bound by the decision if it is accepted by the consumer.  The consumer is also bound but only if he/she accepts the decision in full. 

If both parties accept the decision a binding agreement document or Deed of Release is drafted by the Resolution Practitioner and signed by both parties and the case is closed.