Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Becoming an approved ADR Body
New regulations came into force in October 2015 which required traders to provide information on the availability of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and advise consumers on the ADR body relevant to the sector and the nature of the specific complaint. Although traders are required by law to provide this information, they are not obliged to engage in the ADR process except where they operate in a sector which is mandated by statute or by membership of a trade association to use ADR. Although the use of ADR is not mandatory to traders, it is hoped that the potential benefits in getting and keeping custom through good customer relations will encourage traders to do so. The option to use ADR usually begins when the consumer has exhausted the trader's internal complaints process and they have been unable to resolve the dispute satisfactorily.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a quicker and cheaper alternative to court, where consumers and traders can resolve their disputes. It is a voluntary process and parties can still choose to take further court action if they do not reach a mutually acceptable solution. There are various types of ADR processes and depending on size, complexity and value of claim; parties can decide to use whichever of the methods available would most effectively resolve the dispute.
For the purposes of the Regulations, CTSI acts as the UK Competent Authority that handles applications from bodies, seeking approval, operating in non-regulated consumer sectors. Bodies seeking approval, to operate in regulated sectors, will have to make an application to a different UK Competent Authorities. In the UK these are as follows:
- The Financial Conduct Authority (In relation to the Financial Ombudsman Service in particular)
- Legal Services Board (In relation to the Office for legal Complaints in particular)
- Civil Aviation Authority
- Gambling Commission
- Gas and Electricity Markets Authority
- Office of Communications
- The lead enforcement authority for the purposes of the Estate Agents Act 1979
Further information on applying for approval to become an ADR entity can be found below:
If you are a trader
Clear information on what you need to do to comply with the law on Alternative Dispute Resolution can be found on the Business Companion website.
If you are a consumer
If you are a UK consumer who has a dispute with a UK trader and have exhausted the complaints process of the trader then you may be able to use ADR to find a resolution. Please call the UK ADR Helpdesk on 0345 404 0506 for further assistance.
General information on Alternative Dispute Resolution can be found on the Europa website.
If you have exhausted the trader's complaints process and your purchase was made at a distance (by e mail, on line, telephone, mail order etc) you may be able to submit your dispute via the new Online Dispute Resolution Platform. The ODR platform was launched for the resolution of disputes arising from online transactions between consumers and traders across the EU. For further information on how to submit a complaint on the ODR platform, please visit the European Commission website. You can also call the UK ODR contact point on 0345 608 9579 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.