Retailers’ duty to notify customers of ADR

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On 9 July 2015, provisions of the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) come into effect, obliging traders to notify consumers about what options are open to them if they cannot resolve their dispute. A “consumer” for these purposes is an individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

What you are obliged to do

The Regulations state that where a trader has exhausted its internal complaints-handling procedure in relation to a sales or service contract, it must inform the customer in a “durable medium” (which includes paper or email):

  • that the trader cannot settle the complaint with the consumer
  • of the name and website of an entity providing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services which will be competent to deal with the complaint, should the consumer wish to use an ADR procedure
  • whether the trader is obliged, or prepared, to submit to an ADR procedure.

If the trader is obliged either by law or the rules of any trade association to which it belongs, to use ADR services, it must provide the name and website address of the ADR entity:

  • on its website
  • in its terms and conditions of sale or service contracts with consumers.

 What you should do now

  • Review and amend your complaints-handling process.
  • Ensure staff are trained on the new requirements.
  • Check whether you are obliged to use ADR services and, if so, review the dispute resolution provisions of your own terms and conditions and those of any trade association to which you belong, to ensure compliance. Update your terms and conditions if necessary.

Please contact the writer or another member of the Walker Morris Retail Group if you require assistance in preparing for the Regulations.