Commercial credit providers and utilities are not required to
join a recognised external dispute resolution scheme to participate
in credit reporting until 12 March 2015.
The Attorney-General has released regulations - Privacy
Amendment (External Dispute Resolution Scheme - Transitional)
Regulation 2014 (Privacy Amendment (EDR) Regulation)
suspending the requirement for commercial credit providers and
utilities to be members of an external dispute resolution (EDR)
scheme for 12 months.
Amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act)
by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act
2012 (Cth), coming into force on 12 March 2014, require credit
providers to be a member of an EDR scheme to be able to disclose
credit information about individuals to a credit reporting body.
From 12 March 2014, the Privacy Act will include a broad definition
of credit providers that includes both consumer and commercial
credit providers. This means that commercial credit providers and
utilities will be caught within the new credit reporting regime.
Prior to the new regulations, those commercial credit providers
would have needed to be a member of an EDR scheme recognised by the
Australian Information Commissioner (Commissioner).
In effect, commercial credit providers and utilities would need
to be a member of a recognised EDR scheme in order to:
disclose credit information about an individual (which includes
identification information) to a credit reporting body
collect credit reporting information about an individual.
The Privacy Amendment (EDR) Regulation exempts commercial credit
providers and utilities from this requirement until 12 March
For utilities, all states and territories have EDR schemes in
place that apply to utilities operating in their jurisdiction.
However, not all utility EDR schemes are able to be recognised by
the Commissioner. For example, a utility EDR scheme's
jurisdiction might be limited to exercising powers in performance
of its state or territory based function. The Attorney-General
anticipates that, given the additional time, these hurdles for
schemes to obtain EDR recognition from the Commissioner will be
In relation to commercial credit providers, the Explanatory
Statement to the Privacy Amendment (EDR) Regulation provides
it is the clear policy intention to bring commercial credit
providers within the scope of EDR obligations to the extent that
they access consumer credit reporting information
some stakeholders have argued that commercial credit providers
should be exempt from EDR obligations as, aside from obtaining
credit reporting information, they do not otherwise participate in
the credit reporting environment
some commercial credit providers may instead choose not to
access credit reporting information when making their lending
decision which in turn may also reduce the overall availability of
In view of this, the Attorney-General has provided another 12
months for a solution to be found.
Issues for Commercial Credit Providers
Commercial credit providers should watch this space as it
appears the Attorney-General contemplates that a solution in which
commercial credit providers will be required to be members of EDR
schemes is the way forward. In the meantime, commercial credit
providers and utilities should continue to assess their initial and
ongoing compliance with other obligations under Part IIIA (relating
to credit reporting), the Credit Reporting Privacy Code and the
Australian Privacy Principles.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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