ADR as a topic didn’t feature very highly in the coverage of the potential, and now actual, effect of Brexit, in fact let’s be honest it didn’t get a mention by either side.
There are those who say that leaving the EU is a potential step away from encouraging mediation as it’s a move away from the EU’s ADR Directive.
But as the directive has not been fully implemented the effect in others’ views is not as dramatic. However, with the likely 2 year delay before Brexit is complete the directive is still in effect and should not be ignored for commercial reasons as well as compliance.
What the directive requires is that all UK businesses are to provide a signpost to a certified ADR provider, even if they as a company don’t want to use ADR (which might be suggested would be both a costly a time consuming choice).
If you go searching for those signposts on the big retailer sites you may be forgiven for thinking that none of them have so far complied, in fact a few of the forward thinking companies have, but you will struggle to find the links.
B&Q certainly have a link to “the Furniture Ombudsman” although that does appear to be an in-house complaints service rather than a bona fide independent mediation service, perhaps that reflects the do-it-yourself nature of their business. Aldi specifically say they don’t subscribe to an ADR scheme as they will always try to resolve issues themselves, rather missing the point of the directive.
As yet Trading Standards have adopted a fairly hands off approach to protecting consumer’s interests by rarely enforcing compliance with the directive.
No doubt the leave campaign would say that this is another pointless EU level of bureaucracy and companies should be left well alone to deal with complaints their own way.
Of course that ignores the benefits of mediation entirely as being a cost effective solution to problems, enabling companies and consumers to work together to find solutions and avoid future problems without the expense and delay of an adversarial complaints process, followed by court proceedings which inevitably flow from a unsatisfactory resolution of a customer complaint.
With the victory for the leave campaign the upcoming EU commission publicity and communication activities for ADR are unlikely to have much impact this side of the channel so it will be for the national government (whomever that ends up being led by) and those forward thinking businesses along with ADR/Mediation providers to ensure awareness is raised of the availability and success of mediation.
The commission’s campaign intended to target consumers and businesses alike to raise awareness. Northwest Mediation will continue to publicise our availability and willingness to engage in private and commercial disputes whatever the basis and will keep advocating the cost savings wherever and whenever we have the opportunity.
We have no doubt that there will continue to be an increased call for mediation as a first point of access to dispute resolution as the courts close and legal costs escalate but the sooner ADR is seen as mainstream rather than a soft option the sooner consumers and companies will see the benefits.
If you wish to discuss any problem you are having and want to discuss the benefits of mediation or alternative dispute resolution please call Ed Johnson on 07931318347.