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. This is achieved via the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

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.

ADR is completely voluntary and confidential. An impartial person will help you to reach a resolution that is acceptable to all parties involved.

Judges would now expect the parties to have considered ADR before taking legal action.

Due to the statute of limitations, TrustMark is unable to accept disputes that are more than 6 years old.

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.

What are the next steps?

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, which is for a one hour telephone conference call between an approved independent Mediator and both parties.

Mediators do not decide the outcome, they are there as a third party to help facilitate an agreement for all.

Should the dispute not be resolved at this stage, parties can then move on 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.

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 (2005) Limited, The Square, Basing View, Basingstoke, RG21 4EB.

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

TrustMark will only accept disputes whereby: 

  • The work was carried out by TrustMark Registered Firm
  • The customer has already exhausted the Registered Firm and Scheme Operator disputes process and tried to resolve their dispute without success
  • The customer will need to provide evidence of work carried out eg. Quote, contract or invoices.

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

Either party may withdraw from the process if they wish, 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 process for the resolution of disputes outside of the court system. 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 law.

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 without going to court; it is speedier, less formal and costs less than instructing solicitors. Arbitration is conducted privately based on written documentation and evidence.

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/