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Ombudsman Services responds to Which? report on Alternative Dispute Resolution

Ombudsman Services | Apr 19, 2021

Ombudsman Services, which runs ombudsman schemes in the energy and telecoms sectors, has welcomed a report by consumer rights champion Which? on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).

The report – Are Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes working for consumers? – assesses the strength and performance of ADR schemes in different sectors and highlights areas for improvement.

Recommendations include:

  • Consumer access to ADR should be strengthened, including access to a single mandated Ombudsman service in key sectors.
  • All ADR schemes should be overseen by an effective Competent Authority.
  • ADR schemes must provide an effective service with appropriate timescales and enforceable decision making.

The report highlights the regulated energy sector as an example of good practice, where the Energy Ombudsman (run by Ombudsman Services) works closely with regulator Ofgem and statutory consumer advocacy body Citizens Advice to provide joined-up protection for consumers.

Matthew Vickers, chief executive at Ombudsman Services, said: “This report is a timely reminder that not all ADR is the same. It recognises the benefits of having a single mandatory ombudsman in a sector.

“Our ombudsman approach takes ADR beyond resolving individual disputes to building more powerful insights and constructive challenge for industry to deliver fair service and competitive markets.

“We’re pleased that the hard work we’ve put in with Ofgem and Citizens Advice has been highlighted and we’ll be using the findings to keep improving our service.”