Alternative Dispute Resolution
From the 9th July 2015 The EU ADR Directive was supposed to come into force. It was delayed until the 1st October. This compels the government to ensure that ADR schemes are in place.
ADR is a process that enables disputes between a consumer and a business to be settled via an independent mechanism outside the court system and can provide a quicker resolution. There are different forms of ADR:
Arbitration – an impartial and independent third party will decide how to resolve your dispute. In most cases, the arbitrator’s decision is binding and cannot be challenged in court. Costs vary and sometimes arbitration is free as with IDRS and ACAS services.
Adjudication – by ombudsmen (or ADR provider) and free to the consumer. Binding on the trader (they lose membership if don’t abide by the rules but this rare) but not on you should you not agree and want to take the matter to court.
Mediation/conciliation – remains confidential and cannot be used in a later court hearing. The cost varies: in some instances it’s free; in others, it can get expensive. By the very nature of the word “mediation” someone will work with you and the other party to reach a decision. If agreement is made and signed this is legally binding. You would only be to go to court to enforce it if necessary.
Negotiation – which is used most commonly in employment situations. You can choose to have a union rep or someone else present while you negotiate.
Generally, arbitration is binding on both parties to the dispute; mediation/conciliation and negotiation are non-binding; and adjudication and ombudsmen schemes do not bind the complainant, but will be binding on the other side.
Film recorded for Citizen’s Advice:
Guest posts by Ombudsmen
The ADR appears to have let the flood gates open and the potential for an omnishambles of ombudsmen is upon us.
Problems in the ADR/Ombudsman sector
There are many issues regarding ADR and Ombudsmen providers. These are to do with the oversight by the approval bodies. See Government and regulators continue to fail on resolving consumer disputes and Landing in Court with Ryanair. These articles include links to reports (Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles in particular). They also link to articles from Which? and The Independent that describe a number of problems which are not the fault of providers and provide warnings about one provider, Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited run by Dean Dunham which runs RetailADR, UtitlitiesADR and AviationADR.