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Limelight Articles

Limelight 01/18

Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry – UPDATE

Authors, Alex Haslam , Tim Graham

Public hearing to commence on 12 February 2018 – First Practice Guideline issued – Invitations for submissions and what to do

Royal Commission to commence public hearings

On 22 January 2018, the Royal Commission into alleged misconduct in Australia’s banking, superannuation and financial service industry issued a media release that public hearings will commence in Melbourne on Monday 12 February 2018 and will be streamed live through the Royal Commission’s website. Once the Royal Commission determines its program of public hearings, this will be published on its website and in the media.

Practice Guideline 1 released

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne AC QC has also released the first Practice Guideline, which provides general guidance about the procedures to be followed in the conduct of the Royal Commission and also media guidelines.

Invitation for submissions

Shortly before Christmas, Commissioner Hayne invited submissions from any member of the public, or entity, with information or documents relevant to the investigation of misconduct in the Financial Services Industry.

At the same time, the Royal Commission issued its first batch of notices to various entities in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, regarding instances where “misconduct[1] has been identified by the entity itself, or where the entity’s practice, conduct or behaviour has likely fallen below community standards and expectations. Instances subject to these notices may date back as far as January 2008.

The Royal Commission requires responses to these notices by way of written submissions by 29 January 2018. Any submissions must be no more than 50 pages in length.

What you should do if you have received a notice

In all cases, any submissions should be drafted in candidly yet sensibly; in a way that not only assists Commissioner Hayne with his enquiries, but also protects your interests, or those of your entity, particularly with respect to information of a confidential nature.

It may be that the notice you have received requests assistance on a voluntary, rather than compulsory, basis. Even so, it is important to be mindful that the Royal Commission has wide-ranging coercive investigative powers[2], including to issue formal Notices to Produce, akin to subpoenas, and to compel individuals to appear before it.

Even if your entity has not yet received a notice, there are a number of steps you can now take to ensure that you are well placed to respond to any future request from the Royal Commission. These include ensuring that:

  • compliance arrangements are operating successfully;
  • policies, training processes and procedures are effective, current, documented and accessible; and
  • compliance registers, including breach registers and complaints registers, are current and maintained.

How we can help

Gilchrist Connell has a wealth of experience and depth of expertise in financial services, insurance, regulatory and compliance matters, and we are ideally placed to assist and advise both individuals and entities who are, or expect to be, participating in the Royal Commission process.

We will provide further updates as more information becomes available.

Date: 25 January 2018

[2] Under the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth)
This publication constitutes a summary of the information of the subject matter covered. This information is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as legal or any other type of professional advice. For further information in relation to this subject matter please contact the author.