Exploding the myths of ADR

legal updates

Will the Motor Trader receive the same service from the The Motor Ombudsman, which it enjoyed through Motorcodes?

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It has been brought to our attention that certain organisations, including some manufacturers, are suggesting that all businesses must offer ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (ADR) if they are unable to resolve a consumer’s complaint at first instance.

For the record, all businesses are not obliged to offer ADR unless they are legally obliged to or have committed to use a certified ADR provider.

All businesses regardless of whether they are committed to using ADR or intend to use it must, in the event of an unresolved consumer complaint, signpost the consumer to an appropriate certified ADR provider and advise whether or not the business agrees or is obliged to use ADR in the dispute.

This is the law and anyone stating otherwise is patently wrong.

The organisation often referred to in despatches on the subject of ADR is the ADR provider known as the The Motor Ombudsman which is said to be “fully-impartial” and “self-regulates” the UK’s motor industry through its comprehensive Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Codes of Practice – Motorcodes, by another name.

Any motor trader that previously subscribed to Motorcodes will be automatically subsumed into the The Motor Ombudsman upon renewal and are thereby compelled to take part in ADR, whether they want to or not!

The question is… will the Motor Trader receive the same service from the The Motor Ombudsman, which it enjoyed through Motorcodes?

Frankly, it is difficult to discern how that will be possible now since the The Motor Ombudsman must walk a line between the Motor Trader and the Consumer, in a way that Motorcodes were not required to do.

That said, despite what might be implied by their nomenclature and the lofty ideals espoused by the CTSI, the The Motor Ombudsman is first and foremost a commercial concern that charges one party exclusively (the Motor Trader) for its services.

Of course, members pay a subscription to join Lawgistics, so in that sense we are no different, save that we do not profess to be “fully-impartial”.

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Indeed, we make no bones about our partiality, since we are here for the Motor Trade, first and last and we have our members backs at all times.

Sadly, because Motorcodes have become an ombudsman they cannot act for you as a dealer. To be impartial they can only get involved after you have given your final position which leaves you to make crucial decisions at an early juncture unaided.

We understand that trade associations and dealer networks may compel their members to join the The Motor Ombudsman, whereas others may simply slip into it by virtue of their previous Motorcodes accreditation, but it would be as well that those concerned go into it with their eyes wide open!

Howard TilneyHead of Strategy / Legal AdvisorRead More by this author

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