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ombudsman news

Q&As

what does the European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mean for the ombudsman service?

The directive means that businesses across all kinds of sectors will be able to offer their customers a way of resolving disputes out of court - fairly and informally - like the service we’ve provided financial businesses and their customers for the last fifteen years.

As the largest provider in Europe of “alternative dispute resolution” for consumers, we welcome the ADR directive. Our statutory role - set out in the Financial Services and Markets Act - won’t change. But before July, we’ll need to be “certified” as an official ADR provider under the directive.

The financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), will be a “competent authority” under the directive. Over the next few months, we’ll continue to work with the FCA and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills - the department responsible for implementing the directive in the UK - to show we can meet the directive’s requirements.

does the directive mean that my business will need to work differently with the ombudsman?

The directive sets certain timeframes for sorting out complaints, but the importance of working together efficiently remains unchanged. It’s in everyone’s interests to put things right as soon as possible - whether or not any particular rule or European directive requires it.

All official “ADR providers” under the directive need to offer people the option of complaining online. But we do this already. You may already be dealing with a case where your customer has ticked a box online - rather than signed a paper form - to say they want us to look into their complaint. And you don’t need to treat these complaints any differently.

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ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.