We at The Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution welcome the opportunity provided by the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS) to consult on the European Commission’s Draft Directive and plans for an ODR service. ADR offers consumers and businesses alike the ability to resolve their disputes at a more affordable level and in a more timely fashion than pursing claims through litigation.
We would like to stress that there are many well-established ADR schemes already in existence and there are already some appropriate tailor-made schemes in place (including online and on-offline hybrids), therefore we feel it is important that such existing options are not excluded or duplicated, causing unnecessary cost and disruption.
For general consumer disputes where schemes are not provided by a sector specialist, we provide a recognised “catch all” scheme called the Independent Consumer Redress Service (ICRS). There are two parts to the ICRS – conciliation and arbitration – and further details can be found at The Independent Consumer Redress Service webpage.
Furthermore, the use of existing “ad-hoc” ADR is always an option, for example our own Mediation 125 and Arbitration 125.
Importantly, an official ADR Scheme should not be presented as the only mechanism for consumer ADR where others meet, and possibly exceed, all the relevant criteria.
Definitions of Consumer ADR methods
We are aware of the fact that across Europe different terms have different meanings. Indeed, even between the UK & Ireland, where CEDR is most active as an ADR provider, there are differences in meaning.
Therefore, for ease of reference, we have provided the following definitions as our definitions of the various types of ADR relating specifically to consumer disputes. We accept that the meaning of the different types of ADR listed will differ if applied to commercial ADR, and that arbitration is viewed by some as not being a form of ADR due to its quasi-judicial status. However, for the purposes of the consumer market, we feel that scheme arbitration is very much a form of ADR, being low cost and usually based on documents only submissions:
Where an independent and impartial third party, the mediator, works with the parties, assisting negotiation leading to the settlement of the dispute on the parties own terms. The mediator is not a decision maker.