The QSuper case considers the circumstances in which an appeal from a determination of AFCA can be made. However, it is perhaps more interesting for its commentary regarding the complaint considered by AFCA.
In very simple terms, QSuper introduced occupational ratings (amongst other insurance changes) with effect from 1 July 2016, that were disclosed to members in a significant event notice in May 2016.
In January, the fund refused to give a refund of insurance premiums to a member (Mr Lam, a doctor) following the member’s complaint that the fund should have charged him premiums based on a professional occupation, from the commencement of the introduction of the occupational ratings.
AFCA found that the refusal to do so was unfair and unreasonable.
It was accepted that the member had received the significant event notice and had access to revised incorporated information made available in 1 July 2016. It was also accepted that an application by the member was necessary for the professional occupational rating to apply. However, AFCA appears to have found that it was not until 6 January 2018, when the member accessed the fund’s website, that the member obtained sufficient information to be fully informed of the opportunity available to him to obtain a professional occupation rating.
The fund sought leave to appeal on various grounds, which was declined.
The Court indicated that:
The Court did not review AFCA’s findings, including the basis for AFCA’s conclusion, that the member was not sufficiently aware of, or did not have access to, the manner in which he might take advantage of the new occupational rating until January 2018.
We are nevertheless left with conclusions relating to factual circumstances (that are not unusual) that suggest funds need to do more than just meet their significant event reporting obligations. This may not be surprising when considered against the backdrop of ASIC’s surveillance activity last year relating to the application of default occupational classifications by super funds.
To read the full judgment, click here.
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