Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive 2015
This directive from europe came into force in October 2015, but in 2017, many people and businesses are still unaware of it. Yet it is now part of UK law in the form of regulations, and businesses must be compliant.
do we need to bother if we are leaving Europe?
In a nutshell yes!
what does it say?
In brief it says that businesses have to offer their customers an alternative method of complaint or dispute resolution and can no longer take the approach “we'll see you in court”. All businesses are required to tell their customers in their consumer contracts, what approach they take on dispute resolution. It applies to all consumer contracts.
so what should businesses do?
To put this into practice it means all businesses have to have a clear dispute resolution process that is available to all customers before they enter into any potential contract.
You also need to set out for the customer in your contract what your approach to resolving any potential complaint or dispute will be. To start with you could inform the customer that you have an internal or an external complaints procedure and who they should contact, if they want to use it.
Then you need to say whether you will be prepared to try mediation, conciliation, or arbitration if the customer is not satisfied with the initial complaints procedure. You may have a trade body or and industry ombudsman that the customer can contact. So you could give their details. You may be part of an obligatory industry scheme, so you should find out what you need to do. Many trade memberships include ADR schemes.
who should I use for mediation?
You may also have a preferred mediation service provider that you wish to refer the dispute to should a dispute arise. So you can, but you don't need to, name a specific "certified ADR provider" in your contract ( unless your contract is an industry standard and you are part of an ADR scheme).
In fact it is a common mistake, but you can use any mediator whether certified or not. A "certified provider" means the service, not the individual mediator and in our experience even some certified providers, use non qualified mediators. So ensure you use a professionally trained mediator and preferably one with experience. Indeed many very experienced mediators are not "certified providers". So ask questions and go for experience and quality.
Should you have any questions, get in touch or comment below. And check out our blog on ADR for more info.
Roberta Mason is a mediator. She was a solicitor for over 20 years and knows a thing of two about disputes and going to court. She has a real sense of social justice for ordinary people and small business owners