The General Rules (GR) in the Scheme document set out how the Commissioner will deal with complaints and the types of complaints the Commissioner can and cannot consider. Please note, this page also refers to Scheme Rules (SR).
Complaints the Commissioner can consider
The Commissioner may only consider a complaint if the Commissioner is satisfied that:
- the complaint meets the definition of a complaint; and;
- the complainant has made the complaint to the provider and the complaint has reached deadlock (GR13 and SR4).
The Commissioner can only consider complaints arising from acts or omissions that first occurred from the date a provider joined, or ought to have joined the Scheme.
The Commissioner may decide not to consider the complaint if the complainant:
- knew about the circumstances giving rise to the complaint for more than 12 months before making the complaint (GR18.f)
- does not, or ceases to, have a sufficient interest in the complaint (GR18.b)
- has not waived confidentiality (GR25)
- unreasonably refuses to provide information requested by Utilities Disputes (GR26)
The Commissioner may also refuse to deal, or stop dealing with, a complaint if she considers it appropriate (GR18).
However, providers can agree to extend the Commissioner’s jurisdiction on an ad hoc basis.
Monetary jurisdiction limits
The Commissioner’s jurisdiction to consider a complaint is $50,000 (SR7)
A provider can extend jurisdiction to consider a complaint above $50,000, but no greater than $100,000.
A complainant may reduce the value of the claim to bring it within the Commissioner’s jurisdiction.
Determining the value of a claim
In determining the value of a claim, the Commissioner will take into account the reasonable costs for the provider in carrying out requirements in the determination (SR7).
Ad hoc extensions of jurisdiction
A provider may consent to the Commissioner dealing with a complaint that would not otherwise be within jurisdiction. In such cases the usual levy provisions apply.
Complaints the Commissioner cannot consider (GR15)
Unless the provider agrees otherwise, Utilities Disputes must not accept a complaint for consideration:
- if it is about the price a provider chooses to set for their goods or services. But Utilities Disputes may consider whether appropriate information about charges has been made available to the complainant and whether charges for services have been correctly applied
- if the subject matter of the complaint is being, or has already been, dealt with in a previous complaint to Utilities Disputes by or on behalf of the same complainant against the same provider, and there are insufficient additional events and facts raised to warrant Utilities Dispute's consideration of the new complaint
- if the subject matter of the complaint is being, or has already been, dealt with in a proceeding brought by the complainant before a court, tribunal, arbitrator, independent or statutory complaints or conciliation body or a statutory Ombudsman and the provider has complied with General Rule 13
- if more than six years have passed from the date the Complainant first became aware or should reasonably have become aware of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, or
- if the value of the complainant’s claim exceeds the amount stated in the Scheme Rules in respect of that provider.
The Commissioner decides whether a complaint is within the Commissioner’s jurisdiction (GR16). Utilities Disputes will request and consider representation from both parties before deciding.
Reviewed 27 April 2022