The Department for Business innovation & Skills (BIS) clarifies how it will implement recent EU legislation on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
This signals the beginning of the biggest overhaul of consumer rights in the UK for a generation.
The key points are:
- A new national helpdesk will be set-up to handle consumer complaints. This will direct people to the relevant ‘dispute resolution’ service for them.
- A new ‘residual’ dispute resolution scheme will be set up to cover sectors that do not already have ombudsmen or other ADR schemes in place.
- The government is considering making ADR mandatory across all consumer goods and services in the UK.
Lewis Shand Smith is the Chief Ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, the largest multi-sector provider of ADR in the UK. He welcomes today’s announcement, saying.
“ADR provides a strong, cost effective alternative to the courts. It’s good for consumers, because it gives a swift, independent and just resolution to a problem without the risk of legal bills and drawn-out court proceeding and it’s good for business, as research proves that having a proper redress system in place will benefit your brand and make customers trust you. It’s great news that the government is taking strides to make ADR an integral part of the broad system of civil justice.”
ADR schemes already exist in regulated sectors, including financial services, communications and energy. In other sectors, some businesses choose to belong to voluntary ADR schemes but access to ADR remains inconsistent. The Government is looking to ensure that there is a system in place in the UK which works for both business and consumers.
To find out more, read our alternative dispute resolution leaflet here.