On September 9, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) released a draft regulation relating to the processing of complaints in the financial sector in Québec. It is intended to create a common set of rules and practices for the fair processing of complaints, and would apply to a number of financial institutions, financial intermediaries (including securities dealers and advisers) and credit assessment agents. The draft regulation proposes a framework for complaint processing and dispute resolution obligations while working with the existing obligations.

The draft regulation sets out requirements for what must be included in a firm’s dispute resolution policy. For dealers, advisers and other financial intermediaries operating in the Province, the policy must include the establishment of a complaint process, training on the process, the designation of a complaints officer, the assignment of complaints to the staff responsible for processing them, and periodic reporting regarding the complaints process. The policy must also require that the firm analyze the underlying causes of complaints and address any issues raised. It is proposed that the policy would also contain a provision requiring the reasons supporting a complaint to be analyzed to determine if they could impact other clients and if necessary, provide a remedy.

The draft includes a process for keeping complaint records and sending them to the AMF for examination as required. Of note, it would be expected that the firm be required to provide a complaint drafting assistance service for those who indicate they need it. The draft also covers timelines and requirements for communication with complainants, and would require all complaints to be processed within no more than 60 days from the time the firm received the complaint until the final response is sent to the consumer. A simplified process is proposed for certain complaints where the offer to resolve is accepted within 10 days. The draft also prohibits certain actions, such as using the term “ombudsman” in referring to the complaint process. Finally, the draft regulation also sets out the various monetary administrative penalties that may be levied by the AMF for breaching the regulation.

Comments are being accepted until November 8, 2021 on the draft regulation. If you have any questions, please contact your usual lawyer at AUM Law.

September 30, 2021