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Dispute Resolution Guidelines - Ofcom’s guidelines for the handling of regulatory disputes

  • Dechrau: 17 Rhagfyr 2010
  • Statws: Ar gau
  • Diwedd: 11 Chwefror 2011

Ofcom has a duty to resolve certain disputes in the communications sector where those disputes fulfil the criteria set out in section 185 of the Communications Act 2003 (the 2003 Act).

Ofcom is revising its guidance on these regulatory disputes, previously published in 2004. (-1-) This is a consultation on our new dispute guidelines.

Regulatory dispute proceedings often involve complex issues and are usually highly contentious between the relevant parties. We have experienced a significant increase in the number of regulatory disputes referred to Ofcom in the past few years, with 2009 seeing us open a record number of dispute enquiries. Since the 2003 Act came into force, we have built up considerable experience of resolving disputes. Given that regulatory disputes must be resolved within four months (-2-), they can be highly resource intensive for both Ofcom and the disputing parties (the Parties). We consider that it is now appropriate to review our processes in light of (i) our experiences to date, (ii) the increasing number of disputes being submitted to us, and (iii) the need to be ever increasingly efficient, especially in the context of constraints on resources following the Governments comprehensive spending review in October 2010.

Current guidance on regulatory dispute resolution dates from 2004. We published draft guidelines for consultation in 2006 (-3-), which remain the most up-to-date statement on the way we handle regulatory disputes referred to us.

We intend to publish a final statement on these guidelines in early 2011.

We note that the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) is currently consulting on the implementation of revisions to the European Framework on Electronic Communications. (-4-) This consultation includes proposals to make changes to section 185 of the 2003 Act. In particular, the proposals include that section 185 of the 2003 Act is amended so that it only applies to disputes in relation to conditions set or modified under section 45 of the 2003 Act. References in these guidelines to disputes under section 185(1) of the 2003 Act are therefore subject to the outcome of this BIS consultation.

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