What is ADR?

Since October 2015, the EU Directive makes the requirement of the UK Government to have Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Services available for use in the UK. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute accredit this.  All TrustMark Scheme Operators have in place an ADR process which is readily available to their members, should they choose to use it. 

ADR offers a range of options that support the parties in dispute for an easier, quicker and more cost-effective approach to resolve disputes when compared to the courts or other formal methods.

What does this mean for TrustMark Registered Firms?

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has officially approved TrustMark as a certified Alternative Disputes Resolution (ADR) Provider. This means that all TrustMark Scheme Operators and Registered Firms will be compliant with the requirements on ADR by being registered with TrustMark. It is not mandatory to use an ADR provider, but it is hoped that the use of an independent resolution service will result in a speedy, positive settlement between the parties.

What are the next steps?

Should you fail to reach a positive resolution, either with the Firm direct, or via the Scheme Operator’s disputes process, then you will be in a position to request the use of an ADR provider - either TrustMark or the Scheme Operators' ADR provider.

TrustMark’s ADR process will allow the consumer and tradesperson to work through 3 stages when they have failed to resolve a dispute directly with the tradesperson:

Stage 1 – Conciliation – free service to both parties provided by the Registered Firms Scheme Operator, supporting both to engage and discuss the dispute aiming to agree a negotiated outcome. Should this not be achieved, then the parties have the option to move to the next stage of the process. Conciliation is not legally binding.

Stage 2 - Independent mediation.  This is a low cost, non-legally binding service with a fee of £50 per party + VAT (using the TrustMark ADR Service) and uses fully approved independent mediators to support the seeking of an agreeable solution.  Should the dispute not be resolved at this stage, parties can then move to Stage 3 - Arbitration.

Stage 3 - Arbitration, which is free for the consumer, but not for the tradesperson, aims to avoid loss of earnings and court costs. Should you require arbitration, you will be sign-posted back to TrustMark and provided with further details on the next steps.

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.

TrustMark uses a panel of qualified mediators and arbitrators to provide its ADR service.  Panel members are used as and when required, on a case by case basis. 

We can receive the request either verbally by calling us on 0333 555 1234 or in writing - by emailing us on disputes@trustmark.org.uk or via post to TrustMark, 5 Prisma Park, Berrington Way, Basingstoke, RG24 8GT.

Please note it may take up to 90 days to resolve a dispute, however on average most are resolved within 14-21 working days from the receipt of the complete dispute information and evidence.

TrustMark will only accept disputes whereby: 

  • The work was carried out by TrustMark Registered Firm
  • The customer has already exhausted the company and Scheme Operator disputes process and tried to resolve their dispute without success
  • Customer has evidence of works

We won’t accept disputes, if:

  • The dispute is being considered by another Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body.
  • The dispute is being considered by the Courts
  • If it’s a vexatious complaint

A party can withdraw from the process if they wish to, however if fees have been paid, they may not be refundable.
TrustMark is not responsible for paying compensation or making a financial award on behalf of its members. For a full process, please refer to ‘If things go wrong’ section on our website.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is Stage 3 of the ADR process with TrustMark. It’s a technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts. The parties to a dispute refer it to arbitration by one or more persons (the "arbitrators", "arbiters" or "arbitral tribunal"), and agree to be bound by the arbitration decision (the "award"). A third party reviews the evidence in the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding on both sides and enforceable in the courts.

Arbitration can be used to settle alleged breaches of contract and/or negligence between consumers and TrustMark members. The scheme allows consumers to resolve disputes withoutgoing to court; it is speedier, less formal and costs less than instructing solicitors. Arbitration is conducted privately based on written documentation and evidence.

TrustMark Arbitration Rules

  • To use our scheme you must have registered your complaint with us first.
  • The arbitrator will decide the case based only on the documents submitted by the parties. A neutral, independent arbitrator considers evidence (documents only) submitted by both the claimant and the respondent.
  • The arbitrator makes the decision about the redress – called an award - after considering the evidence. The decision is final and legally binding.
  • If the customer wins, or partially wins, the TrustMark Registered Firm will send the customer the money awarded. Payment is due within 21 working days from the date the award is issued.
  • Either party can appeal to the independent arbitration company within 14 days of the award being issued provided that the Court has given them permission to do so. The arbitrator will have the powers under the Arbitration Act 1996.
  • TrustMark cannot accept disputes for work carried out more than 6 years ago

Arbitration fees

Prices are subject to change. The service is free to consumers as notified to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

If you need more information on how to resolve a dispute, please go to our ‘If things go wrong’ page.

If you have any queries please email TrustMark on TrustMark Disputes or General Enquiries

For further specific information about ADR, visit: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/alternative-dispute-resolution/settling-out-of-court/