A new requirement for companies to inform consumers of an appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme was due to apply from July this year. The UK Government has just announced that this has been deferred until 1 October 2015 to take effect at the same time as the new Consumer Rights Act 2015. This is to allow time for the list of approved providers to be finalised and for companies to understand their obligations.
In the event of an unresolved dispute between a consumer and a company neither party is obliged to use an ADR scheme and even if they do the option to go to court remains available.
The UK already has ADR schemes in certain sectors, some mandatory, others voluntary, but a new European Directive requires that such schemes be available across all consumer contracts. There is a parallel European Regulation to address on-line cross-border sales.