EU ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR) DIRECTIVE
On 1 October 2015, the ADR Directive came into force throughout Europe, including the UK. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/542/pdfs/uksi_20150542_en.pdf
The new legislation on ADR aims to allow consumers and traders to resolve their disputes in an easy, fast and inexpensive way without going to court. Due to the contractual nature of the relationship between solicitors and their clients, where there has been payment for legal services, the regulations must be applied.
The SLCC has put any application to be a certified ADR entity for Legal Services in Scotland on hold. This is to allow for further consideration on what changes might be necessary to become a compliant ADR entity in terms of our own rules and legislation, and the potential impact compliance may have on both consumers of legal services and the legal profession in Scotland.
There are currently no certified ADR entities appointed in Scotland specifically for Scottish Legal Services. Solicitors however must still comply with government regulations.
From 1 October 2015, all law firms (whether or not they decide to opt in, or out of ADR) are required to provide clients at the end of their own internal complaints process, with the following information:
- Details of a certified ADR provider [at present these are- Ombudsman Services, ProMediate and Small Claims Mediation (UK) Ltd].
- Inform the client whether or not they (the firm) intend to use that provider.
It is important to note that firms are not obliged to use an ADR scheme, and in Scotland it is expected that most will continue to direct dissatisfied clients to the existing free statutory scheme operated by the SLCC. However, firms are obligated to tell a consumer about a certified ADR provider.
The Law Society of Scotland has issued guidance to Scottish Solicitors about their obligations under the ADR Directive which can be found here:http://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/member-services/professional-practice/professional-practice-updates/professional-practice-updates-2015/professional-practice-updates-september-2015/.
ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ODR)
From 15 February 2016, additional requirements will apply to all businesses who sell their goods or services online. ODR allows consumers to submit their contractual dispute and conduct the ADR procedure online. If a business does not sell goods or services on their website or by electronic means, they do not have to comply with ODR.
The implementation of the ADR Directive does not overrule the statutory role of the SLCC to accept and deal with complaints .