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Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is a currently a hot topic, with the government having recently published its response to a consultation on the ADR Directive. The Directive must be implemented in the UK by 9 July 2015. The aim of the Directive is to ensure that ADR, provided by a certified ADR body, is available for any dispute relating to contractual obligations between a consumer and a business.

Risk Confusion

The government’s response covers the following issues:

• Measures to ensure that ADR is available for all consumer disputes.

• The creation (with Citizens Advice) of a consumer complaints helpdesk.

• The appointment of a number of regulators as competent authorities to monitor ADR entities in particular sectors.

• Implementation of provisions on which the UK has a choice about how to adopt the Directive, and how limitation periods for commencing litigation will be extended when there is an ongoing ADR process.

• Proposals to simplify the provision of ADR.

The current provision of ADR is patchy and inconsistent across different sectors of industry. It is to be hoped that the Directive, when implemented, will simplify matters and make it easier for consumers to access ADR.

If you are involved in a dispute and would like advice on this or a related topic, please contact Catherine Mathews  either call 01392 210700 or email drx@stephens-scown.co.uk.    Catherine specialises in commercial and contract litigation and has experience of many different forms of ADR, including mediation, adjudication and arbitration. She also deals with consumer disputes, including those relating to holidays, timeshare, cars and financial services. Catherine is a member of the Dispute Resolution Team in Exeter. She is listed as a leader in her field in Chambers 2014.