General Questions

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a process to resolve disputes between consumers and traders before court.

There are no rules in Law whereby ADR is compulsory, however, there are some sectors where ADR is mandatory like the Financial services who use the financial Ombudsman Services.

If an installer has a dispute with a consumer, they must advise the consumer of an ADR body that can assist to resolve disputes.

Mediation is designed to bring about a mutually agreeable solution between both parties within a speedy time frame, the process is voluntary and is non legally binding on both parties.

The appointed mediator will discuss the issues with both parties in dispute, the mediator will then offer opportunities for solutions to both parties, this would then result in both parties mutually agreeing a resolution which will then be drafted into a formal agreement which both parties will agree and sign to. This agreement ensures that neither party can add or subtract from the contents of the agreement and will be resolved in full and final settlement of the matter presently in dispute.

Mediation should be used to prevent the case from going to a legal forum / court which is costly and can be highly stressful. Mediation can be free of charge to consumers so this route is advisable before entering a legal route, it would also more than likely be advised by a court that both parties engage in mediation before pursuing the matter legally.

Mediation is not binding between both parties, however, if either party sign a compromise agreement which is only drafted after gaining their verbal agreement, this becomes binding on both parties. Therefore, if either party breach the agreement which is an addendum to the original contract, this can be used in a court of law.

Cases that fall under the renewable (HIES), home improvements (HICS) and double-glazing sector (DGCOS) that fall within the installation companies’ period of membership i.e. the contract was signed during the installers period of membership.

For renewable complaints, HIES can take on complaints if the contract was signed before they became members of the scheme providing they are current members when the complaint is made by the consumer.

  • Complaints that have or are going through another ADR scheme or court
  • If a consumer has not given the trader, the opportunity to resolve the complaint first
  • If the dispute is frivolous or vexatious
  • Dealing with the complaint would seriously impair the effective operation of our schemes (DGCOS, HIES and HICS).

Pre-ADR – If a consumer has a complaint, they are first to contact the installer and provide them with a reasonable amount of time to come back to them with a plan of action (usually 14 days)

1st stage ADR – this is an avenue to resolve a dispute in a speedier manner (7 days), it doesn’t require much physical information at this point and allows both parties to release all their issues verbally without the need to go back and forth in writing which can often frustrate the process further

2nd stage ADR – this is a more formal process and requires a full case file from both parties before proceeding with mediation which allows 90 days to resolve the complaint, an extension can be applied should the dispute be complex or both parties have agreed a way forward but the time frames may go over the 90 days

Ombudsman – this is the final stage whereby mediation has proven unsuccessful and both parties have reached a deadlock. The Ombudsman decision is legally binding on the member.

ADR is free of charge to consumers.

Mediation falls under ADR which is non-legally binding and is offered to resolve disputes before being elevated to the courts.

Arbitration falls under ADR, this process is a non-court method where an arbitrator is appointed by both parties to make a decision which is binding.

Litigation is the courts method of resolving complaints where a judge decides the case outcome.

  • Both parties can negotiate what they want in order to resolve the complaint
  • It can prevent the complaint being elevated to the courts
  • It can prevent further upset and frustrations
  • Reduce cost
  • Reduce time of resolving the complaint

The service is not legally binding so cannot always resolve a dispute in full and final settlement, meaning it would then have to be elevated to either an Ombudsman or a court.

Consumers and installers must provide the mediators / arbitrators with evidence.

The mediator will ask both parties for this information if required, on some occasions it is not always required if the complaint is something that can be done with just a couple of phone calls.

The installation company the complaint is against and the customer who has made the complaint, if the customer wishes to have a representative to act on their behalf, they will be required to provide authorisation to do this.

The ADR process has a 90-day resolution time with extensions if necessary and both parties agree. However, at QASSS our aim is to resolve complaints quickly and fairly and our average dispute resolution time is industry-leading at just 3.59 days.

It depends on the circumstances, the purpose of mediation is to gain all the necessary information in order to gain an amicable conclusion between both parties, therefore, neither party can keep adding to their complaint as this can and will frustrate the process. However, if there are further issues encountered when the contents of the agreement is being carried out, this will need to be reported to the mediator and a new agreement will need to be drafted and signed by both parties.

The compromise is binding on both parties providing both parties read, digested and signed the agreement.

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