CCMC Case studies

The CCMC has developed a number of case studies regarding typical and important scenarios the CCMC has come across while fulfilling its function to investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Banking Practice (the Code). These provide stakeholders with examples the kinds of the decisions the CCMC makes when investigating allegations.

All matters that come before the CCMC are considered on the basis of their individual circumstances. These case studies serve as an operational guide only. Given the individuality of each case, where a consumer has concerns about the actions of a Code subscribing bank under the Code, the CCMC encourages them to report their concern using the form on the Report a concern page.

The CCMC will be adding further case studies to this website from time to time. You will find other case studies developed by the CCMC in previous editions of the Bulletin and Annual Report.

What areas do they cover?

The case studies developed to date cover areas including:

  • the 12 Month Rule  – where the events giving rise to an allegation were, or could have reasonably been, known more than 12 months before the allegation was made. For more information please click here
  • Provision of a banking services – the Code sets out services standards for banks to comply with when providing a banking service
  • Adoption of a decision by another Forums – where a matter is being considered by, for example, FOS or a Court. For further information please click here
  • Discretion – when the CCMC may or may not conduct or continue to conduct a compliance investigation. For further information please click here, and
  • Jurisdiction – there are certain circumstances under which the CCMC may or may not be able to investigate an allegation. For further information please click here.

 

The 12 month rule

Mr A was unable to meet his credit card payments and this week his bank started collections activity against him to recover the overdue amount.

He contacted the CCMC because he was concerned about the number of calls he was getting and that the bank’s actions might not be Code compliant. As the events giving rise to Mr A’s concerns occurred in the last 12 months the CCMC is able to investigate his concerns.

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Three years ago Mr B’s bank closed his account. Mr B contacted the CCMC this week to raise a concern saying that even though he had found out about the account closure shortly after it happened the bank had not informed him of the account closure at the time. Not only had the events giving rise to Mr B’s concerns occurred more than 12 months ago but he had also known about them for more than 12 months. Accordingly the CCMC will only be able to investigate Mr B’s concerns if the bank agrees to extend the 12 month period. Given the amount of time that had passed the CCMC will also need to consider if the matter should proceed at all.

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Mr W contacted the CCMC with concerns about a guarantee he had signed five years ago to support his son’s business loan.

Mr W had limited knowledge of English and could not understand some of the language used in the guarantee. He was concerned because at the time he signed the guarantee he had been told he had to sign then and there or else his son’s loan would be refused.

After his son’s business failed six months ago, the bank wrote to Mr W to enforce the guarantee. Mr W immediately saw a lawyer and became aware that at the time he signed the guarantee the bank should have informed him that he could seek independent legal and financial advice before signing the documents and to allow him until the next day to consider the information (unless he had already received legal advice).

Although the guarantee was signed five years ago, Mr W only became aware of the bank’s obligations six months ago and there was a reasonable explanation why he had not become aware of the concerns sooner. Accordingly the 12 month rule does not apply.

 

Provision of a Banking Service

Mr C contacted the CCMC because he objected to his bank’s support of an international sports event. The CCMC could not investigate his concerns as they do not relate to a banking service.

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Mr D contacted the CCMC because he was concerned that his bank had provided him with a loan that he could not afford to repay. As the allegation related to a banking service, the CCMC was able to investigate the matter.

 

Adoption of decision by another forum

Mr E contacted both the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the CCMC about a dispute with his bank regarding his mortgage. While FOS considered the matter, the CCMC placed its investigation on hold. Mr E’s dispute was finalised after the Ombudsman made a Determination. In making the Determination the Ombudsman found the bank had breached its lending obligations under the Code but that it had complied with its hardship obligations. As these issues were identical to the concerns Mr E had raised with the CCMC, the CCMC adopted the Ombudsman’s Code findings. The CCMC then liaised with the bank to discuss what steps the bank had taken to investigate and address the cause of the breach.

 

Discretion

Mr F contacted the CCMC with concerns about the way the bank had handled his request to cancel his direct debit arrangements. Not long before Mr F contacted the CCMC, the CCMC had already completed an Inquiry into direct debit obligations with all Code subscribing banks (including Mr F’s bank). The Inquiry had identified that Mr F’s bank had already begun a program to enhance its processes and that those enhancements would address the concerns raised by Mr F’s case. The CCMC formed the view that in the circumstances an investigation would not add anything material to the work that the bank had already done to improve its procedures regarding direct debits and declined to investigate the matter.

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Mr G contacted the CCMC because he was concerned his bank manager had provided confidential information about his business to a business competitor. The CCMC declined to investigate the matter on the basis that the CCMC was not a suitable forum to investigate a complex privacy matter – instead it recommended that Mr G contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (previously the Privacy Commissioner). In addition the CCMC asked that Mr G keep the CCMC informed about any decisions by the OAIC so that any Code breaches identified in that matter could be adopted by the CCMC for review with the bank. The CCMC also recommended to Mr G that he consider obtaining independent legal advice in respect of any rights he might have to recover any losses that occurred as a result of the banks actions.

 

Jurisdiction

Mr H contacted the CCMC with concerns that his bank had not complied with the obligations set out in the Code about the information that has to be provided to guarantors. The CCMC could not investigate the matter because Mr G’s bank had not adopted the Code.

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Mr J contacted the CCMC because he was concerned his bank had not approved his loan application. As a result Mr J claimed he had lost a $500,000 business opportunity. Mr J wanted the CCMC to find the bank in breach of the Code, to compel the bank to pay him compensation and to fine the bank manager responsible for the loan refusal.

The CCMC could not assist Mr J as its Determinations are limited to findings on whether or not a Code subscribing bank has breached the Code – it cannot make decisions of type sought by Mr J.

Mr J said he was not interested in an investigation that could not give him the results he wanted. The CCMC referred Mr J to FOS in respect of his compensation claim and to ASIC (as the regulator of the bank’s financial service provider licence).