Conceptualising the Australian Telecommunications Industry Self-Regulation Scheme in the Context of Australian Judicial System and Administrative Justice
Australian Journal of Telecommunications and Digital Economy, Forthcoming
16 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 2016
The public ombudsman plays an irreplaceable role as an important redress mechanism for individual grievances and as a “watch dog” to administrative justice. In the past few decades since the 1980s, private ombudsmen have emerged and proliferated, which has also brought some significant controversies alongside their rapid development. Unfortunately, many of these controversies have not been sufficiently addressed to date. This article examines the nature of the private ombudsman and its changing position in administrative justice by using the Australian telecommunications industry self-regulation agency, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) as a case study. This article establishes a key claim that the TIO is substituting courts with respect to consumer matters rising from its service sector. Stemming from this claim, this article further argues that the current TIO scheme presents a situation where sectorial ombudsmen may provide different rights and remedies from those available in the courts. Furthermore, consistency in decision-making by private ombudsmen can be problematic, and fair procedure requirements remain to be tested by the courts. In conclusion, this article suggests that private ombudsmen, like the TIO, should be subject to a closer monitoring process, and as a starting point, this article suggests an authoritative and standardised quality control assurance mechanism should be established to ensure that complaints are effectively received and handled.
Keywords: Telecommunications industry ombudsman, the TIO, public ombudsman, industry consumer dispute resolution
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