Statement: Review of alternative dispute resolution schemes
- Start: 31 March 2017
- Status: Statement published
- End: 12 May 2017
Statement published: 27 November 2017
Further research published: 19 February 2019
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers important protection to consumers who have a complaint about their communications provider (CP). CPs offering services to individuals and small businesses must be members of an ADR Scheme. The process allows people to escalate their complaint to an independent body, which will consider the case and reach a fair and impartial judgement.
Under powers in the Communications Act 2003 (the ‘Act’), Ofcom currently approves two ADR Schemes: Ombudsman Services: Communications (OS) and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). We are required to keep these approvals under review.
We have also approved both Schemes under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes Regulations 2015 (the ‘ADR Regulations’) and are required to review these approvals every two years.
In March 2017 we published a Call for Inputs which launched our latest review. This statement concludes our review. We consider that both Schemes’ performance meets the required criteria and are re-confirming our approval of both OS and CISAS under the Act and the ADR Regulations.
Ofcom has today published an independent review of case acceptance by alternative dispute resolution schemes.
During our 2017 review, a number of Communications Providers (CPs) raised concerns that the Schemes were accepting cases which they believed were out of scope for ADR. These included cases that they perceived to be vexatious or brought by businesses which should not have been using ADR (i.e. those with more than 10 employees). Some CPs expressed a belief that the financial models of the Schemes incentivised them to accept cases that were out of scope.
The ADR Regulations clearly stipulate the grounds by which a Scheme can refuse to accept a complaint. While some CPs provided anecdotal examples of cases they perceived to be out of scope of the Schemes’ terms of reference, this limited evidence did not suggest a systemic issue. However, given the strength of feeling amongst industry stakeholders, Ofcom made a commitment to commission an external body to review a sample of cases that CPs challenged as being out of scope. We felt such a study would be in the interest of consumers and would help ensure the Schemes are providing an efficient service and accepting cases which are within scope.
We appointed Mott MacDonald, an independent consultancy, to:
- review a sample of the Schemes’ cases which CPs have disputed on the basis they are outside the terms of reference of the Schemes, and provide an independent view on whether each case looked at should have been in or out of scope for ADR;
- identify trends and common factors in cases being accepted/rejected as in/out of scope; and
- make proposals on how any issues identified could be addressed.
Adolygiad o sut mae Cynllun Dulliau Amgen o Ddatrys Anghydfod yn derbyn achosion
Statement: Review of Ofcom’s approval of Alternative Dispute Resolution Schemes
Datganiad: Adolygiad o gymeradwyaeth Ofcom o Gynlluniau Dulliau Amgen o Ddatrys Anghydfod
|Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland (PDF File, 277.4 KB)||Organisation|
|Andrews & Arnold Ltd (PDF File, 96.4 KB)||Organisation|
|Association for Interactive Media and Entertainment (PDF File, 346.4 KB)||Organisation|
|BT Group (PDF File, 217.4 KB)||Organisation|
|Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (PDF File, 150.0 KB)||Organisation|