Following the RMI’s National Conciliation Service receiving Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) approval from Trading Standards, please below summary of the rules on the ADR process provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Regulations – supporting consumer confidence, driving business growth.
All businesses receive complaints. In buying and selling, as in life, things go wrong, people make mistakes. Consumer protection law is not there to punish mistakes. It is there to help businesses and consumers to deal fairly with each other, including when things go wrong, and to set a good balance of rights and responsibilities. In this way we raise consumer confidence and drive economic growth.
New rules for business from 01 October 2015
From 01 October all businesses who are committed to using an ADR provider, either through sector specific regulatory requirements or perhaps through a trade association or professional membership requirement, must provide their certified provider’s contact details on their website as well as in their terms and conditions.
Good customer service involves listening to the customer, and ensuring that the business response upholds consumer rights. Businesses which focus on high quality customer service ensure that their customers are given the clear and comprehensive information they need to make an informed decision before they buy. And when consumers do come to the trader with a problem, a sound knowledge of rights and responsibilities should put the trader in good stead to resolve any issues quickly and fairly.
Occasionally cases will come along where the trader and consumer cannot agree. Such impasses can be damaging for the trader, reputationally as well as in terms of tying up resources that could more profitably be directed elsewhere. In these cases, access to an independent case assessor who will look at the evidence and come to an impartial view, or help the parties to come to a mutually acceptable agreement, will free up the business whilst at the same time showing their customers they value them enough to offer them a balanced hearing. Such a form of dispute resolution is known as ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (‘ADR’) as it is an alternative to taking the dispute to court.
Whilst ADR services will not be free to traders, it is recognised that the use of a certified ADR provider can bring benefits to the business which outweigh the case handling fee they pay. Recourse to ADR saves internal resources, provides a reliable source of expertise on consumer rights, and protects trader reputation. Some providers also offer feedback on data consumer trends and expectations as part of their service. . ADR is also likely to be quicker and cheaper than going to court and unlike in court, judgements against the defendant are not made public. And as ADR becomes a familiar part of the consumer buying experience, and an indicator of a quality service, consumers will increasingly look for it in making their buying choices. The significant increase in traders signing up with ADR providers over the past year reflects a clear recognition of these benefits across businesses large and small.