Own-initiative Monitoring and Enforcement Programme: Communications Providers’ compliance with GC14.5 – Dispute Resolution Schemes

16 June 2015

Complainant: Ofcom own-initiative monitoring and enforcement programme
Investigation against: Communications Providers (“CPs”) offering fixed line telephony, mobile, and broadband to consumers
Case Opened: 17 June 2014
Case closed: 16 June 2015
Issue:
Compliance with the requirement under General Condition 14.5 of the General Conditions of Entitlement (“GC14.5”) to implement and comply with a Dispute Resolution Scheme
Relevant Instrument: General Condition 14 of the General Conditions of Entitlement ("GC14"), specifically GC14.5 (Dispute Resolution)

Update note - 16 June 2015

Ofcom is today announcing the closure of the GC14.5 enforcement programme that was opened in June 2014. The enforcement programme was opened to monitor CPs compliance with their obligations under GC14.5 to implement and comply with a Dispute Resolution Scheme so that, where necessary, their domestic and small business customers can make use of the right to go to Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”).

The Programme has successfully raised awareness of the requirement under GC14.5 for CPs offer to their customers access to ADR, and has led to a significant number of CPs which were not previously members of an Ofcom approved Dispute Resolution Scheme signing up to those Schemes. Given this marked improvement across the industry, we have decided to close the enforcement programme. However, we remain committed to ensuring CPs comply with their obligations under GC14.5 to offer their domestic and small business customers access to an approved ADR Scheme and we will therefore continue to monitor complaints regarding non-compliance with GC14.5.  Where we identify suspected non-compliance with the rules, we will not hesitate to open individual investigations, where appropriate, details of which would be published on the Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin.

 

Update note - 15 December 2014

Ofcom has decided to extend this Programme for a further six months. This will enable us to continue to monitor compliance with GC14.5. If any formal enforcement action is taken as a result of the work undertaken in this programme, we will publish separate Bulletin entries as appropriate.

End of update note

Ofcom has opened a monitoring and enforcement programme to assess CPs’ compliance with GC14.5, which requires CPs to implement and comply with an Ofcom approved independent Dispute Resolution Scheme for their domestic and small business customers, in relation to the provision of public electronic communications services.

Two such Dispute Resolution Schemes have been approved by Ofcom. They are Ombudsman Service: Communications (http://www.ombudsman-services.org/communications.html) and the Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) (http://www.cisas.org.uk).

The monitoring and enforcement programme will monitor compliance with GC14.5 across the industry and will target those CPs who are not members of an Ofcom approved Dispute Resolution Scheme. Our aim is to ensure that CPs are complying with their obligations to implement and comply with a Dispute Resolution Scheme so that their domestic and small business customers can make use of the right to go to Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) where necessary.

Ofcom may initiate separate investigations of named providers. Where we do so, these will be announced via our Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin. Alternatively, we may move directly under this programme to take enforcement action where, for example, Ofcom has reasonable grounds for believing that a CP is contravening GC14.5. In that case, Ofcom will announce its action via an update to this bulletin entry.

As part of this monitoring programme, Ofcom also opened an investigation into Jason Clifford trading as UK Free Software Network (“UKFSN”). The investigation followed concerns that UKFSN is not a member of an ADR scheme and may be in breach of GC14.5. Ofcom has now concluded this investigation. Further details can be found here.

Case Leader: Rapinder Newton (email: Rapinder.newton@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference:
CW/01131/06/14