One community legal centre has highlighted cases of mortgage hardship to justify free dispute resolution.
The NSW Consumer Credit Legal Centre’s submission to the Financial System Inquiry has urged the federal government to maintain the “free, independent, ASIC-approved” External Dispute Resolution scheme.
The Consumer Credit Legal Centre described the scheme as the “biggest advance for consumers in Australia in decades” because it holds financial services businesses accountable.
The centre raised one case in which a mentally ill pensioner faced the prospect of losing her home after her daughter fraudulently made drawdowns against the mortgage.
It raised another case in which an elderly couple received a statement of claim for possession of their property after they fell behind on their payments due to medical bills.
Both parties managed to keep their homes after turning to the External Dispute Resolution scheme for help, according to the Consumer Credit Legal Centre.
“Access to external disputes resolution is not only synonymous with access to justice for consumers; it is also a key accountability mechanism against poor market practice,” it said.
“Where consumers cannot easily complain about poor treatment and seek redress, dishonest traders hold an unfair competitive advantage over more responsible traders.”
The NSW Consumer Credit Legal Centre is largely government-funded but independently managed by a voluntary committee.
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