The UK’s implementation of the ADR Directive takes the form of the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/542) in conjunction with the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1392) (“UK Regulation”). Despite the ADR Directive requiring implementation of the rules by 9 July 2015, the operative provisions of the UK Regulation will come into force on 1 October 2015. The UK Regulation has taken a minimalistic approach to the adoption of the ADR Directive, simply implementing the minimum requirements and, therefore, the UK has not made ADR mandatory for traders (beyond the sectors and industries in which it is already mandatory) nor does the UK Regulation provide for further incentives or sanctions. Under the UK Regulation, a consumer is anyone acting for purposes that are wholly unrelated to that person’s trade or business and a trader is a person acting for purposes related to his or her trade or business, either personally or through another person acting under his or her own trading name or on the trader’s behalf. The UK Regulation will introduce the following measures:
• It will set the standard which ADR entities must meet in order to achieve certification, e.g., impartiality, independence, and quality of expertise.
• It will designate the competent authorities that will vet ADR entities to become certified to offer ADR services to consumers and traders, e.g., the Financial Conduct Authority and the Legal Services Board. The ADR entity need not be established in the UK.
• Most importantly for online traders, the UK Regulation will impose information requirements on businesses selling to consumers. The information requirements include the following:
• Where a trader is obliged to use ADR services provided by an ADR entity, by law or by the rules of a trade association, the trader must provide both the name and website address of the ADR entity on its website (if it has a website) and in the general terms and conditions of sales or service contracts made between it and consumers.
• Where a trader has exhausted its internal complaints handling procedure, the trader must inform the consumer…
(1) that the dispute cannot be settled,
(2) of the name and address of an ADR entity that would be competent to handle the dispute, and
(3) if the trader is obliged (by law or by the rules of a trade association) or willing to submit to ADR procedures run by the ADR entity identified.