Consumer Rights – 5 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Schemes

This is the last in our series of brief summaries of the changes in consumer protection law, highlighting their significance, and with links to further advice.   This is not intended to be legal advice upon which you should act, but awareness of issues which you need to consider. For legal advice please contact Neil Howlett or Andy Hambleton

Another change to consumer rights effective from 1st October 2015 simultaneously with the Consumer Rights Act is the requirement for all traders dealing with consumers to provide details of available ADR schemes.

Good Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes can be very helpful, and many sectors and trade organisations offer them.  However, they tend to blur the distinction between consumers legal rights in contract law and their right to moan if their (unreasonable) expectations are not met.

ADR has been the flavour of the month with governments for many years.  Currently, the governments thinks that the eBay scheme is excellent (which may not be the experience everyone who has used it).

To comply with the EU directive on ADR which is intended to make online ADR available to all consumers traders will now be required to advise consumers about relevant ADR schemes if they cannot resolve their complaints.  Confusingly, the traders will not be required to participate in such ADR schemes unless there is an existing regulatory obligation to refer complaints to an ADR scheme or ombudsman, e.g., the Financial Conduct Authority for the financial services sector or the Legal Ombudsman for solicitors. If that applies your professional or trade body should have informed you.

See Business Companion – Alternative Dispute Resolution