Banking, Finance & Insurance Disputes
DISPUTE RESOLUTION & LITIGATION
We are Australia's leading banking, finance and insurance dispute lawyers specialising in helping clients obtain compensation from companies which have caused them financial harm through irresponsible lending practices or by denying legitimate insurance claims.
These disputes often present formidable challenges due to the substantial resources of banks and insurance companies, their perceived disregard for customer wellbeing, and their readiness to exploit the significant power imbalance that exists. Our mission is to help our clients get their lives back on track by securing compensation for the injustices they have suffered.
In 2009, specialised responsible lending legislation was introduced in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. This legislation placed the responsibility on financial institutions to ensure the loans they provide to their customers are affordable. Unfortunately, despite the existence of these laws, many banks and lending institutions have failed to comply with their legal obligations and have exploited the substantial power imbalance that exists between their lending business and those who depend on their services.It wasn’t until the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Industry unfolded in the media and the commissioner released the final report in 2019 that the banks were exposed for their irresponsible lending practices. The institutionalised conduct of banks caused many people to lose their homes and suffer financial hardship. Regrettably, these issues persist to this day. Following the Royal Commission, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) was launched to tackle the large number of complaints from consumers about financial products and services. Whilst AFCA has now closed their ‘legacy complaints’ window, many banks have committed to investigating and resolving historical complaints in-house. At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we can help with current and historical irresponsible lending complaints. Our experienced lawyers will help determine if you are eligible for compensation for any financial loss you have suffered.
Irresponsible lending is when a financial institution lends money to someone who cannot afford to pay back the loan. Financial institutions have a statutory obligation to do their due diligence to investigate a borrower’s capacity to repay a loan before a customer enters into the requested credit arrangement. This includes ensuring that the customer can service the loan and not fall behind on any existing financial commitments they have by taking out the loan. It would be irresponsible for a lending institution to loan money to someone which would cause them financial hardship, and unfortunately, many consumers simply do not understand that they cannot afford to take out a loan, or otherwise they take a loan due to existing financial pressures.The national credit reforms were introduced by the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 which include responsible lending obligations, covering new loans and increases to existing loans.
A legacy complaint refers to complaints about financial services or products that occurred on or after 1 January 2008, which fall outside the time limits that would normally apply to complaints submitted to AFCA. AFCA have closed their legacy complaints window; however, many banks will still investigate and resolve historical complaints which pre-date 2008. They are doing this because of the enormous amount of irresponsible lending that previously occurred which they say they did not know about.
If a banking institution has failed to take the necessary steps to ensure you can pay back the loan, they may have acted irresponsibly, and you may be eligible to make a complaint.
A lender should:
- ensure the loan is suitable to your unique situation
- verify your income to ensure you can service the loan
- ask questions about your living expenses and other financial needs
- ensure you completely understand the agreement you are entering into
- ensure you can meet your obligations on interest only loans beyond the expiration of the interest only period
- ensure the value of the property is more than the value of the loan
- ensure there is a buffer where you can still afford to repay your loan if interest rates increase
- in some circumstances, obtain independent legal advice.
If a bank has been found to have irresponsibly lent to a customer, then the customer may be eligible for compensation.
Yes. In most cases under the National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009, consumers are obligated to report a breach and make a claim within six years from the date the loan was granted.
- Make a complaint to the lender;
- If their response is not satisfactory, ask for a review of the complaint by their internal dispute resolution department;
- Lodge a complaint with AFCA;
- Contact Attwood Marshall Lawyers to obtain professional advice from an experienced lawyer who can help you understand your prospects of successfully making a claim and guide you through the legal process.
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Our insurance claim lawyers have a long-standing history of fighting insurance companies.
In most cases, people feel secure knowing that they hold an insurance policy and rely on having that policy to safeguard them should the unexpected occur. Almost all families have multiple insurance policies to protect them including home and contents, motor vehicle insurance, business insurance, and health insurance. Most professionals also have compulsory professional indemnity insurance policies to cover them for insurance claims made against them if they provide negligent advice or deliver work that causes their customers financial loss.
Unfortunately, the insurance industry is known for denying liability for insurance claims despite consumers believing that they’re insured.
Most people, however, don’t read the fine print of their policies and do not completely understand what exclusions apply to their cover, which comes as a nasty surprise when they make an insurance claim.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers has represented many clients who have suffered significant loss or damages to their home or business premises after a fire or natural disaster. Insurance providers try to deny liability and appoint investigators who go to great lengths to attempt to gather evidence which may show that the event was deliberate or falls outside of what is an insured event under the customer’s insurance policy.
Having an experienced insurance dispute lawyer review your insurance claim can often mean the difference between a denied or approved claim, so it’s important to go to the right professional.
If you have a claim against an insurance company and you believe the provider has unfairly denied liability for a valid claim, you can have the insurance claim rejection decision reviewed via the insurer’s internal dispute resolution department, or alternatively, you can make a complaint to the external dispute resolution body; Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
It is not uncommon for an insurer to respond to an insurance claim by offering to pay less than the full value of the claim. In most cases this comes down to the insurer’s assessment of the extent of damage they are willing to cover.
If you have requested the insurer provide you with a reason for only paying a portion of the insurance claim, and are unsatisfied with their response, our expert insurance lawyers can help you understand if you have a claim worth pursuing and what steps to take to challenge the insurer’s decision.
There has been a proliferation of new insurance companies that have flooded the market in recent times promising cheaper premiums and better service. As with all financial products, ensure that you carefully read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and be clear about what you are covered for. Many policies are worded in such a way that it is difficult to understand what circumstances are covered and which are not. A reputable insurance broker can assist you with understanding the terms and conditions of your policies and help you shop around for the best deal. Normally, their fee is paid by the insurance company who they recommend you to.
It is also important to regularly review each insurance policy to ensure it is valid and continues to meet your needs. For example, review your contents insurance to ensure the value you are insured for aligns with the contents of your insurance. This may change over time.
You must understand if there are any exclusions applicable in your policy that apply to you, for example, you may live in a high-risk flood-prone region, and for this reason your insurance may not cover damages caused by flood damage.
There are often exclusions for all types of insurance policies. For example, if you hold home and contents insurance, it is a common exclusion in most policies that if you leave the property uninhabited for an extended period, you may not be covered. Every policy may outline a specific timeframe as to how many days the property has been uninhabited before the exclusion applies.
There are other exclusions with home and contents insurance that people often overlook:
- If your home is not properly secured and you have not taken reasonable steps to reduce the risk of someone breaking and entering, any insurance claims you may make in relation to stolen items may be rejected.
- If you live in an area near a body of water, you may not automatically be covered for flood damage.
- If you use your home to generate additional income, such as renting it out on Airbnb, any damage that may be caused by invited guests may not be covered by your insurance policy. Additional insurance may need to be purchased to cover these types of events.
It is imperative that you read the product disclosure statement on all insurance policies so that you have a thorough understanding of what is, and more importantly what is not, covered under the policy.
Bad Financial Advice
In recent years, there has been an explosion of people suffering significant financial losses because of negligent, and in some cases, fraudulent advice being provided by banks and financial service providers.
Many cases involve inexperienced and unlicensed financial planners working for banks advising customers to invest in financial products not appropriate for their needs.
However, these claims are not just limited to the banks; independent financial planning firms and accountancy firms have also provided negligent investment advice to their clients.
Our banking dispute lawyers can get you back on track and help you understand what steps to take to resolve your dispute.
Assessing whether financial advice was negligent can be a complex task. Simply being dissatisfied with a service doesn’t automatically imply negligence. To verify if you have grounds to claim compensation or if you have suffered financial losses, it is crucial to seek advice from experienced commercial litigation lawyer. A lawyer with a strong background in financial matters will verify whether the service you received was negligent and provide insights into the potential range of compensation you may be eligible to pursue.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers has developed a streamlined system that not only assists consumers with their claims, but also provides the necessary information to the bank’s advisors in the driver’s seat who are determining a compensation claim. We use reputable forensic accountants to assess the conduct of the bank and calculate the losses suffered because of this conduct. Our commercial litigation lawyers are highly specialised in all areas of business and commercial law, with a key focus on dispute resolution. The team have the local knowledge and significant experience to guide you through the everchanging and complex commercial litigation and dispute resolution legal system.