Note: The lists of recognised external dispute resolution (EDR) schemes and information about current applications for recognition are now found on the Recognised EDR schemes page.
The Information Commissioner, under s35A of the Privacy Act 1988 as amended by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012, can recognise external dispute resolution (EDR) schemes to handle particular privacy-related complaints.
The OAIC has issued Guidelines for recognising external dispute resolution schemes which include the matters the Commissioner must take into account in considering whether to recognise an EDR scheme, the steps an EDR scheme should take to apply for recognition and the general conditions for ongoing recognition.
Importantly, from 12 March 2014, under Part IIIA of the Privacy Act, a credit provider (as defined by sections 6G to 6K of the Privacy Act), must be a member of an EDR scheme recognised under the Privacy Act to be able to disclose credit information about an individual to a credit reporting body and thereby participate in the credit reporting system.
A transitional 12 month exemption from the requirement to be a member of a recognised EDR scheme has been put in place for energy and water utilities and commercial credit providers. Further information on the reasons for the temporary exemption can be found in the explanatory statement to the Privacy Amendment (External Dispute Resolution Scheme—Transitional) Regulation 2014.
Despite this transitional exemption, the OAIC encourages commercial credit providers to become a member of a recognised EDR scheme where there is one available for them to join. The OAIC notes that the Credit Ombudsman Service Ltd (COSL), which is a recognised EDR scheme, is accepting membership applications from commercial credit providers. As well several Energy and Water Ombudsman schemes (covering Victoria, NSW and WA) have applied to be, or have been, recognised.