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Publication of the Government response to the ADR Directive Consultation

On 18 November 2014, the Government published the Government response to the consultation on the implementation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive.

As you will already be aware, ADR can offer a cheaper and quicker alternative to the courts, for disputes where a consumer is not able to resolve their complaint directly with the business from whom they made their purchase. ADR already operates in the UK, but currently not across all sectors. Under the Directive, the UK Government are obligated to provide ADR through a certified body, for any dispute concerning contractual obligations between a consumer and a business.

To achieve this, Government announced the following changes today.

We intend to leave the existing landscape as this already operates well, and will introduce a residual ADR scheme to plug the gaps in the existing landscape where coverage is limited. This will be achieved through the appointment of an external supplier through a competitive procurement process to provide a residual ADR scheme, which will be targeted at those sectors which generate a significant number of complaints.

Further changes being implemented as part of this Directive will be to:

Create and fund a consumer complaints “helpdesk” to be provided by Citizens Advice alongside their existing consumer service, where consumers can go for assistance and advice when attempting to resolve a dispute with a trader;

Establish the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) as the “generic” competent authority who will vet, certify and monitor ADR providers in non-regulated sectors, ensuring providers comply with the requirements of the Directive;

Legislate to allow regulators to act as competent authorities in their sectors building on their existing relationships with statutory ADR providers;

As part of a longer term work plan, work with colleagues across Whitehall and with external stakeholders, to gather evidence on the costs and benefits of broader simplification of the UK landscape.

Finally, for online cross-border disputes, the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Regulation obliges the Commission to establish an online platform to facilitate communication between parties and a certified ADR provider. The UK will be designating an ODR contact point to assist with disputes submitted via this platform.

The full response document can be viewed here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/375978/bis-14-1122-alternative-dispute-resolution-for-consumers.pdf

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