Alternative Dispute Resolution Service
What is an ADR?
From 1 October 2015 new regulations require all Firms providing good or services to their customers to provide a simple and low cost resolution service should things go wrong.
The service providers, including tradesmen, should they fail to resolve a dispute with their customer through their own efforts, advise the customer of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body, relevant to their sector and the nature of the specific complaint.
It is not mandatory to use an ADR provider, but it is hoped that the offer of using an independent resolution service will result in the speedy settlement of issues if things do go wrong. By using the scheme the potential benefits in customer relations such schemes may realised for both the consumer and the firm and professional delivery of service continued.
Alternative Dispute Resolution offers a range of processes that support the parties in dispute for an easier, quicker and more cost effective tool to resolve disputes when compared to the court or other formal processes.
It is generally accepted that consumers are more willing to use simplified functional routes rather than to use the court process. It is also accepted that these processes are much better at maintaining, or recovering, a positive relationship between the consumer and trader.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has officially approved TrustMark, the only Government-endorsed scheme for all trades in and around the home, as a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Provider.
This will mean that all TrustMark Scheme Operators and registered firms will be compliant with the requirements on ADR by being registered with TrustMark. They will have the option to offer their members and consumers a clear, simple and low cost dispute resolution alternative to formal legal action should things go wrong.
What does it mean to the businesses?
From 1 October 2015 all businesses are required to inform their customers about their chosen ADR provider should they wish to participate. They have to confirm if they are going to be using an ADR process or not – it’s not a legal requirement, but guidance.
Chartered Trading Standards Institute ask that at a point of dispute, every business must provide one of the following statements to inform whether they take part in ADR or not. This must be in durable form (on paper or on their website for instance, where it cannot be amended):
You have now reached the end of our internal appeals procedure. By law we are also required to inform you that XXX (name of approved ADR body) provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service that would be competent to deal with your appeal. We have chosen to participate in their ADR service. As such should you wish to appeal then you must do so to XXX (contact details of approved ADR body).
You have now reached the end of our internal appeals procedure. By law we are also required to inform you that XXX (name of approved ADR body) provides an Alternative Dispute Resolution Service that would be competent to deal with your appeal. We have not chosen to participate in their ADR service and as such will not be taking this complaint any further.
How can TrustMark help its Registered Firms and consumers?
TrustMark, one of the few organisations to provide the ADR service, will offer a process for disputes relating to domestic repair, maintenance and improvement work carried out in and around the home. It will be available to both TrustMark-registered tradespeople and their customers for contracts to the value of £100,000 and they will be able to use the service as a ‘pay as you go’ with no annual fee or costs.
TrustMark’s ADR process will allow the consumer or tradesperson to work through three stages when they fail to resolve a dispute directly:
Stage 1 – conciliation – supporting both parties to engage and discuss the dispute to agree a negotiated outcome. Should this not be achieved then the parties have the option to move to the 2nd stage of the process
Stage 2 – Independent mediation, this is a low cost service at £50 per party and uses fully approved independent mediators to support the seeking of an agreeable solution. Should no mediated position be agreed then the final step is available to enter into a fully arbitrated engagement, this is stage 3.
Stage 3 - Engagement with an Ombudsman style service for adjudication, which is free for the consumer and £250 for the tradesperson and avoids loss of earnings and no court costs.
TrustMark Registered Firms who wish to show that they are compliant with this new EU Directive and offer an ADR process to their customers should contact their Scheme Operator.
If you need more information on how to resolve a dispute, please go to our Homepage and click on ‘If things go wrong’.
For further specific information about ADR, visit: www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/consumer-contracts/alternative-dispute-resolution .