The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 came into force in tranches from 7 April 2015. The most important changes, affecting business in general, come into force on 1 October 2015. These are the result of an EU Directive which has had to be implemented into UK law.
The Regulations do not make it mandatory for traders to offer consumers access to ADR nor can consumers force traders to use ADR (unless the trader is a member of a trade association or professional body which requires ADR to be provided). The aim of the Regulations is to make Consumers more aware of ADR and their options in this regard.
From 7 April 2015, under the Regulations, to be certified, ADR providers must:
1.Offer ADR free of charge or for a small fee to consumers;
2.Conclude disputes within 90 days of receiving the complaint file; and
3.Employ trained, independent and impartial staff to handle disputes.
From 1 October 2015, under the Regulations:
1.Any trader who is obliged to offer ADR by its trade association or professional body, or who has voluntarily agreed to use an ADR provider, must provide information to consumers regarding ADR on their website and in their terms and conditions. This will therefore not apply to most traders.
2.All traders (regardless of size) must provide consumers with information regarding the availability of ADR, but only after they have exhausted their own complaint handling process.
For more information, please contact our Employment Law Team.