ASIC consults on relief for simple arrangements following credit hardship notice

Today, ASIC released Consultation Paper 354 ASIC relief for simple arrangements following a hardship notice: [CO 14/41] (CP 354) seeking feedback on whether to extend the written notice exemption for credit providers and lessors who enter into simple arrangements with consumers in hardship.

ASIC currently provides relief to industry in Class Order [CO 14/41] which is due to expire on 1 March 2022. The class order relieves credit providers and lessors from the obligation to provide written notice to consumers about hardship contract variations of 90 days or less (known as ‘simple arrangements’).

ASIC invites submissions on whether [CO 14/41] continues to form a useful part of the regulatory framework, including:

  • how frequently credit providers and lessors rely on [CO 14/41]
  • the impact on consumers if relief is extended or expires, and
  • the regulatory or commercial impact of extension or expiry of [CO 14/41].

Submissions on CP 354 are due on 1 February 2022.

Background

ASIC is the national regulator for consumer credit and consumer leases under the national credit legislation.

Under the National Credit Code, a consumer experiencing financial difficulties may notify their credit provider/lessor that they are unable to meet their repayment obligations (i.e. a hardship notice). The credit provider/lessor must respond by either agreeing to or declining to change the contract and provide written notification to the consumer about their decision.

The exemption from the written notification requirement for simple arrangements was introduced in 2013 following changes to the hardship provisions of the National Credit Act.

ASIC’s Moneysmart website has guidance for consumers on how to apply for hardship variation.

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