Resolving consumer disputes

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By Ciaran Harkin, Managing Director, QASSS

In the world of customer-business interactions, conflicts and complaints can arise, leading to tension and dissatisfaction.

Luckily, there is a practical and cost-effective solution that can help avoid lengthy court battles - Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR is a specialised service provided by organisations that aim to resolve escalated complaints and disputes between customers and businesses. By utilising various techniques,

ADR strives to find a fair resolution that satisfies both parties involved.

Understanding the Range of ADR Services:

ADR encompasses different methods, each designed for specific situations and preferences. Customers and businesses can choose from the following services, all falling under the ADR umbrella:

Mediation involves an impartial professional guiding both parties through a structured process to reach an acceptable resolution. The mediator, who doesn’t necessarily need industry expertise, fosters open communication and encourages collaborative problem-solving. This non-binding approach challenges each party’s viewpoint, aiming to find a compromise and agreement. At Dispute Assist, our mediators specialise in home improvement and renewable energy disputes, ensuring effective and high-quality mediation.

Conciliation takes a more proactive approach, bringing disputing parties together to settle their differences and avoid court proceedings. An independent officer with industry-specific experience acts as a neutral intermediary. Along with assisting the parties in finding their own resolution, the officer may propose settlement options if they can’t reach an agreement independently. Dispute Assist excels in the role of a conciliator, providing fair and reasonable settlements through our industry-focused ADR Officers.

Adjudication involves an independent third party making a judgment on a dispute. Although legal expertise is often required, industry-specific knowledge may not be necessary. Adjudication decisions typically bind the involved business, aiming for swiftness, but occasionally facing delays.

Arbitration takes adjudication a step further by providing a legally binding decision that supersedes any previous adjudication ruling. Both parties agree to transfer their dispute to an independent arbitrator, who is usually legally qualified. The arbitrator’s ruling, along with the reasons for the decision, becomes binding for both parties. While arbitration is a lengthier process, it ensures a final and enforceable resolution.

Expert Determination:
Expert Determination offers a quicker and more cost-effective alternative to arbitration. An independent expert with specific knowledge in the relevant field examines the dispute and provides a binding decision. Unlike arbitration, the expert’s decision may not disclose complete case notes or reasons, expediting the resolution process. Dispute Assist recommends Expert Determination to minimise costs, and for existing clients, we offer it free of charge if required.

The benefits of ADR for businesses:
Dispute Assist understands that unresolved complaints can escalate into costly and protracted legal battles, consuming valuable internal resources. Utilising an ADR service offers several advantages for businesses:

Cost-effectiveness: ADR is a more economical alternative to litigation, providing considerable savings in legal fees and administrative costs. Moreover, ADR maintains confidentiality, keeping disputes out of the public domain.

Timely Resolution: ADR is typically faster than court proceedings, with Dispute Assist achieving an average resolution time of just 5.6 days. This swift resolution minimises disruption and allows businesses to move forward promptly

Impartiality and Fact-based Decisions: ADR eliminates emotional bias by impartially addressing disputes based on facts. By relying on an independent third party, ADR prevents negative conversations on social media and safeguards brand reputation.

If you operate in the home improvement or renewable energy sectors and are interested in learning more about ADR options, please do not hesitate to contact us at or on 0161 676 0919.

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