21 May 2015
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is actively looking for organisations to officially serve as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies.
ADR is a system whereby a third party settles disagreements between consumers and businesses. It's a process designed to keep disagreements out of the courts as well as provide greater protections for both businesses and consumers.
As the competent body for the EU Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), CTSI is tasked with approving organisations that can potentially serve as official ADR bodies for various consumer sectors.
If you feel your organisation could serve as an ADR body in your sector, please visit this section of the CTSI website for guidance on applying by clicking here.
Below are a few frequently asked questions about the process.
What is the application process and where can I get help in preparing my application for approval?
The guidelines on application to be an approved consumer ADR provider are published on the CTSI website. The audit process is designed to be very flexible and applicants are advised to apply at whatever stage they feel they need assistance and CTSI auditors can then assist them in completing their application and meeting the requirements of the audit.
What happens if my application is rejected?
The audit process is designed so that where the audited process doesn't immediately meet the requirements of the regulations, the auditor will assist the applicant body in modifying processes to eventually comply. Where an application is rejected, the competent authority must, as soon as is reasonably practicable, give written notice of this fact to the ADR applicant, which must include the grounds on which it has rejected the application.
My business activities are targeted mainly at consumers based abroad, do I need to apply?
The regulations provides for bodies to provide ADR services for both domestic and cross-border disputes.
Do all my activities need to be approved / audited?
The term ADR and, more importantly in this context, the processes that the directive need to be approved by the competent authority (CA), include all processes that are aimed at resolving the consumers complaints. It is definitely not limited to formal mediation, conciliation, adjudication processes, etc. Nor is it limited to ombudsman services. It is possible that an applicant body carries out several activities some of which may be capable of approval under the regulations. For example, a body who wants to be audited for its processes in dealing with consumer complaints might also deal with disputes between traders. In this case the first process can be approved and the second, for the purposes of the competent authority, can be ignored.
I only provide informal advice and assistance, I send those disputes I can't resolve to a provider of formal ADR services; do I need approval?
The scope of the regulation covers any activity carried out with an aim of resolving the consumers dispute. This is wider than just formal ADR activities such as arbitration or conciliation. If you carry out informal ADR, and wish the trader to be able to signpost towards your scheme, then you will need to be approved by a competent authority. Otherwise the trader will be required to indicate another, approved ADR body, even if their intention is to use your unapproved scheme. If you do seek approval then both parts of the scheme, your informal process and the external formal process, will need to be approved.