Additional action must be taken by all regulated law firms to be able to comply with an EU Directive on Consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that was brought in on 1st October
The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) was formerly the body all clients were directed to file a complaint, however new enforcements require additional information. As of last month, as well as directing clients to the LeO, law firms are also required to provide information about entities that provide ADR services.
What is the EU ADR Directive?
The EU ADR Directive is new legislation that ensures the ability of alternative ways to resolve contractual disputes between consumers and businesses. The Directive has introduced a two-step process all registered legal firms must abide by when dealing with client complaints. Continuing on from previous routines, providing information to the client in regards to the LeO is still required, as is set out in the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) Complaints Code. The additional step required is that information must be provided about an additional ADR entity which has been certified under the EU Consumer ADR Directive.
Along with the Ombudsman services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation are suggested entities that are able to deal with disputes within the legal sector.
Are these changes reasonable?
ADR is said to provide a more cost and time-effective alternative to the court system. Along with cost effectiveness, ADR is also thought to significantly improve the overall experience of filing a complaint. In addition, the process is not solely accessible to solicitors; although many are, this isn’t the case across the board.
When searching for complaints handlers, to ensure there is no wasting of time, it is reported that approval by the Trading Standards website is an imperative. Many legal professionals when reviewing ADR mention how the use of ProMediate is effective due to its panel specialising in dealing with complaints about solicitors.
The ADR Directive was set up to allow customers to have confidence regarding transactions if something was to go wrong. Along with the moral purpose of the Directive, the LeO has delayed making its application in becoming the sole complaints handler, and therefore additional information is required. Once the internal complaints procedure reaches exhaustion, it is then that the complaint can be taken to the LeO. Failure to take extra measures when dealing with complaints would result in a breach of the ADR Regulations. With the inclusion of these further details, is this the call to action that both the client and law firms have been longing for?
The introduction of such services has reportedly helped to ease the workload of legal professionals and is favoured by many when dealing with complaints. Has the EU Directive succeeded in helping you deal with complaints? Is this a significant step forward in achieving high levels of security and confidence for customers?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.