Following recent conversation in the ADR industry regarding anticipated threats to ADR in the UK in the face of Brexit, we look to the strength of the industry and changes which can be expected in the near future.
Recently a conversation has emerged in the ADR community following the publication of an online article regarding the rumoured demise of “Consumer Online ADR requirements” due to Brexit. Whilst Brexit does present a potential shift in legal requirements around ADR, the discussion of its demise is somewhat premature. Indeed, ADR is still very much alive and of increasing relevance in the UK.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 will still be applicable and will remain UK law. This is a UK regulation and there are currently no plans to remove this legislation, regardless of the status of Brexit. In fact, we are still waiting for the white paper to be issued following the green paper on ‘Modernising Consumer Markets’. This may well further develop the current requirement for ADR.
What is actually being dropped is The Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR). Essentially these regulations were introduced to encourage the use of ODR within the EU. Where a trader had been required to use an approved ADR provider, they had to (amongst other things) provide a link to the ODR platform on their website. This in turn referred the consumer to an approved ADR provider. It is only the requirement to provide the link to the ODR platform that is being removed, not the need for ADR.
The platform was designed to be a tool for a consumer to log a complaint regarding an online purchase of goods or services. Whilst the change will remove the need for a trader to display the link on his website, the need for approved ADR bodies will still remain.
The Consumer Code for Online Dispute Resolution (CCODR) is encouraging a unification of industry standards. By subscribing to the platform, ADR practitioners will demonstrate their adherence to an industry leading set of unified standards, to provide a stamp of quality for dispute practitioners from varying legal and professional backgrounds and to extend consumer protection.