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Our 3 stage ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) process

3.59 days

average resolution time

99%

of disputes are resolved in-house

ADR – how we work

About QASSS

We ensure our dispute resolution services are widely accessible and ensure that our decisions are made on what is fair and reasonable.

Our ADR officials act with impartiality and aim to reach a quick resolution to the dispute or complaint. They are appointed on a permanent basis and selected based on skills and knowledge.

When we make a decision, we take into account:

  • both sides of the story;
  • regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
  • our codes of practice (this is only applicable to HIES), relevant law and regulations;
  • what is accepted as good industry practice.

If the consumer chooses not to accept our decision, their (the complainant) legal rights remain unaffected and they can take the matter to court – subject to any requirements set by the courts.

Before we can accept your complaint you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve it. If you receive the company’s final position on the complaint (deadlock) and you remain unhappy, or eight weeks pass and the complaint remains unresolved, we may be able to help.

There are, however, some reasons why we will not accept complaints. These include:

  • the customer has not first attempted to resolve the complaint directly with the trader;
  • the dispute is frivolous or vexatious;
  • the dispute is currently being, or has in the past been, considered by another ADR scheme or court;
  • the value of the claim exceeds the maximum value of an award that we can make;
  • the company was not a member of one of our schemes during the period the work was carried out;
  • the customer has not submitted the dispute within the required time and;
  • dealing with the dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of our schemes.

Initial complaint submissions can be written in any language that can be translated by Google Translate. Our responses, however, will be in English only.

Our procedures can be conducted by both oral and written means, in English.

We will accept cross-border complaints, which is where the trader and consumer reside in different countries.

Consumers can be represented or assisted by a third party.

Consumers do not need to get any independent advice from a solicitor to access our services.

If we accept your complaint we will decide the best way to resolve it and will aim to find a resolution that both you and the company agree on.

The legal effect of the outcome of our procedure is binding on our members, not on the consumer.

You can withdraw from the process at any point. In exceptional circumstances, where QASSS or the Ombudsman considers it necessary (as a matter of sole discretion) a site visit, expert report or a face-to-face meeting (or hearing) may be arranged.

Consumers can request all the documents we hold in relation to their complaint.

If one of the parties has sought to deliberately mislead us on a matter relating to the existence or non-existence of one of the grounds for refusing to deal with the dispute, we retain the right to immediately refuse to deal with the dispute any further, even after the three-week deadline has passed.

Mediation and conciliation are voluntary dispute resolution processes in which a ‘neutral person’ helps the parties try to reach a settlement, preferably a negotiated settlement. The ‘neutral person’ could be an officer of QASSS or someone appointed by QASSS to discuss the problems with both parties to try to reach an agreement without the need to progress to the Ombudsman. Mediation and conciliation are both designed to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion but may not provide the final and binding resolution of a dispute.

The mediator/conciliator may, at any time, deem it necessary to instruct an independent inspector to carry out a forensic defect analysis report concerning an installation undertaken by the business. The report may then be used by the mediator/conciliator to further the mediation/conciliation process in an attempt to reach an agreed resolution between the parties. For transparency, copies of the forensic defect analysis report will be supplied to all parties in the dispute with each party being given time to review the contents prior to continuation of the mediation/conciliation process.

When we make a decision, we take into account:

  • both sides of the story;
  • regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
  • our codes of practice (this is only applicable to HIES), relevant law and regulations;
  • what is accepted as good industry practice.

If the consumer chooses not to accept our decision, their legal rights remain unaffected and they can take the matter to court – subject to any requirements set by the courts. We would always suggest that the consumer also goes through the QASSS appointed Ombudsman before commencing action in the courts.

If one of the parties has sought to deliberately mislead us on a matter relating to the existence or non-existence of one of the grounds for refusing to deal with the dispute, we retain the right to immediately refuse to deal with the dispute any further, even after the three-week deadline has passed.

Important points to note:

  • Consumers have the choice as to whether or not to agree to, or follow the proposed solution.
  • Participation in the procedure does not prevent the possibility of seeking redress through court proceedings.
  • The proposed solution may be different from an outcome determined by a court applying legal rules.
  • Where a business is part of a client scheme, this agreement is binding on the business but not on the consumer.

If a compromise cannot be reached and both parties are at an impasse, QASSS will elevate the case to the independent Ombudsman – the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman. However, QASSS have an in-house resolution rate of 99% meaning that most cases do not need referral.

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform is provided by the European Commission to allow consumers and traders in the EU or Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein to resolve disputes relating to online purchases of goods and services without going to court. The ODR platform is not linked to any trader. You can use it to take your complaint to an approved dispute resolution body.

The ODR platform is easy to use and takes users through the dispute resolution process in a step-by-step fashion. It provides translations in all EU languages and has inbuilt time limits for resolving complaints.

For full details and/or to register a complaint on the ODR platform please visit the dedicated website.

For super-quick and hassle free ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) contact us today.

ADR FAQs

Our help centre below can instantly give you answers to many frequently asked questions about ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution).

If you still need help or would like to find out more about QASSS and any of our services, please do not hesitate to contact the team on 0330 335 3354 or email info@qasss.co.uk

Alternative Dispute Resolution, or ADR for short, is a quick and cost-effective process to resolve disputes between consumers and traders to avoid court proceedings.

There are no rules in law whereby ADR is compulsory, however, there are some sectors where ADR is mandatory like Financial services, and some trade organisations and membership schemes require business members to use dispute resolution.

However, it is obligatory to signpost. If an installer or business 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 and 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.

QASSS specialises in dispute resolution using mediation and conciliation in the home improvement and renewable energy sectors.

We provide dispute resolution and mediation services for clients and certain consumer protection schemes such as HIES, HICS and DGCOS.

  • 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.

Pre-ADR – If a consumer has a complaint, they are first to contact the installer or business 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. 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 (although QASSS’s process is much quicker with an average dispute resolution time of just 3.59 days).

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.

At QASSS, ADR is normally FREE for consumer who have registered installations with their clients.

Mediation falls under ADR. It s 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 a legal method of resolving complaints where a judge decides the case outcome.

  • Both parties can negotiate using an impartial mediator in order to try and resolve the dispute.
  • It can prevent the dispute being elevated to legal proceedings/court which can be an expensive and lengthy process.
  • It can prevent further stress, upset and frustration.
  • ADR is quick so should reduce the time to resolve the dispute.

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 and businesses 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 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 as 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 agreement is binding on both parties providing both parties read, digested and signed the agreement.

A Trusted Partner

QASSS protects consumers and mitigates risks across the home improvement, renewables and building repair sector. Building on our heritage as a leading consumer protection organisation in the home improvement sector, we are CTSI approved and provide industry-leading expertise and continually work to improve services and standards across the sector.

Contact us to see how we can help your business.