The Conservatives have achieved a lot in a single term to reduce workers’ rights, health and safety and make achieving access to justice harder. (see Hazards) What next?
An EU Directive has introduced new rights for consumers to seek redress in disputes with various traders for defective or otherwise inadequate goods or services.
This is aimed at avoiding using the courts by using an Alternative Dispute Resolution process instead.
Traders should be setting out in their terms which trade body they are a member of and which body will provide ADR services in the event of a dispute.
You are not obliged to use the ADR route to resolve a dispute but it is likely to be the cheapest as most of these services are free to the consumer.
The decision of the ADR service is usually binding on the trader but only binding on the consumer if they accept the decision. Sometimes the trader has to be a member of the trade association providing the ADR for the decisions to be binding.
ADR services are provided by:
1. ABTA – Association of British Travel Agents – resolves travel service disputes of ABTA members, cover UK and cross border, non-binding
2. BVRLA – British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association – car rental, leasing, rental brokers, leasing brokers, domestic and cross border disputes, decisions binding on members
3. Furniture Ombudsman – see my earlier blog
4. Retail Ombudsman – see my earlier blog
5. Ombudsman Service – see my earlier blog
6. Motor Codes Ltd – vehicle warranty products, vehicle service and repair, new car purchases, trader must be a member, non-binding.
7. National Conciliation Service – sales and service contracts for motor vehicles, domestic and cross border disputes, conciliation and mediation non-binding, adjudication binding on trader, arbitration binding on both parties.
8.Pro-Mediate UK Ltd – nominal fee to use, contractual disputes between businesses and customers including retail, non regulated professional and construction services. Non-binding.
9. Renewable Energy Consumer Code – disputes over the installation of renewable energy systems, domestic and cross border disputes, no fees, binding on traders who are members of the code, arbitration also binding otherwise non-binding. Will not handle disputes if consumer has not given reasonable opportunity to trader to resolve.
10. Small Claims Mediation – £30 fee, all small claims generally worth less than £10,000, domestic and cross border disputes, binding once any agreement to resolve the issue is put in writing and signed by both parties.
These are the ones approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, there are likely to be other bodies offering similar services who the trader could choose to use. None of these options are currently compulsory and you can always decide to use the court process.
For further advice and assistance call Nick, a senior solicitor on 01925 759 510 or complete the contact form at the side of this page.
These are new services available to consumers to resolve their disputes with traders without going to court. These have been set up following an EU Directive aimed at improving access to a cost effective means of resolving disputes by means of Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR.
They are free to use (although if an expert report is required they may ask you to fund this with the cost being recovered from the trader if they find in your favour) and if they make an award and you agree to it then it is usually binding on all parties and can the be enforced in the courts.
When dealing with traders they will now have to inform you of the available options to resolve any disputes that might arise and list any of the bodies they are members of who might provide these services. These bodies include the various Ombudsman Services referred to above and others.
The Retail Ombudsman:
Types of disputes covered: Complaints relating to returning goods, faulty goods, missing parts, delivery, customer service, pricing, misrepresentation and product description.
Sectors and categories of disputes covered by each ADR body: Goods or services purchased either in store or online from retail businesses including high street and online shops, catalogues, garden centres, petrol station forecourts and delivery.
The Furniture Ombudsman:
Types of disputes covered: Disputes involving furniture, home improvement and floor covering retailers.
Sectors and categories of disputes covered by each ADR body: Handles both domestic and cross-border disputes including those submitted via the ODR platform.
The Ombudsman Services:
Types of disputes covered: Ombudsman Services is approved by CTSI to provide approved ADR procedures across a wide range of consumer sectors including retail, copyright and trader schemes. Ombudsman Services is also in the process of seeking approval for its ADR procedures in sectors regulated by other competent authorities (The approving bodies for ADR in those sectors). These sectors include energy, communications and property.
Sectors and categories of disputes covered by each ADR body: Handles both domestic and cross-border complaints.
For advice or assistance call Nick, a senior solicitor on 01925 759 510 or fill in the contact form at the side of this page.
If you have purchased furniture, had home improvements carried out (eg new kitchen, bathroom, fitted wardrobes etc) or had flooring fitted (eg laminate or solid wood floors) and the products or services were defective or otherwise poor there are several options available to you to seek redress.
Options for seeking redress
(1) The first option is usually to complain to the company from whom you purchased the goods or services.
(2) If you paid for any part of the goods or services using a credit card and the total purchase price was between £100 and £30,000 you could seek recovery of the cost directly from your credit card company under section 75 Consumer Credit Act OR if the items cost between £30,000 and £62,260 and were financed by a credit or loan company you could seek recovery directly from that loan company (I have blogged about this previously here).
(3) There is always the option of suing the company through the courts. Any claim worth up to £10,000 would be classed as a small claim and you would not generally be exposed to paying any of the other side’s legal costs if you lost your claim. However, you would have to do the legal work yourself or pay someone such as a solicitor to do this for you.
(4) There is now another way of seeking redress through an Ombudsman and from July 2015 traders are obliged to inform you of the option to resolve disputes with them through a “Alternative Dispute Resolution” or “ADR”. This term covers a variety of methods of sorting out problems between consumers and traders or between businesses whilst trying to avoid suing anyone in the courts.
It is informal and usually involves an independent mediator who will listen to each sides story and help them see a resolution. If a solution is agreed it is drawn up into a document which both parties sign and which then forms a binding legal contract of what was agreed.
The Furniture Ombudsman; Retail Ombudsman and Ombudsman services have been set up under an EU Directive to provide consumers with assistance resolving disputes.
There would appear to be some overlap between these services with the Furniture Ombudsman being most appropriate for the areas set out in the title of this post.
We aim to assist consumers and small or medium sized businesses resolve their disputes in a cost effective manner and as swiftly as possible.
For further information or to seek legal advice call Nick, a senior solicitor on 01925 759 510 or complete the contact form on the side of this page.
Many small and medium sized businesses rely on cash flow to survive and thrive. Recent studies have shown that more than £30 billion is owed to small and medium sized enterprises and over 75% are having to wait over 1 month for payment.
Sometimes a firmly worded letter from a solicitor can encourage a debtor to pay, sometimes you have to go further but you may worry about future business relationships.
There are options available without jumping straight into court proceedings. Mediation which is not restrained by the strict rules of evidence and remedies available in court. You might be able to turn a situation to your advantage with a little lateral thinking as well as preserving the business relationship.
Not all disputes and debts can be resolved this way and occasionally a firm approach is required including issuing legal proceedings and then seeking to enforce any awards.
At Sentinels Solicitors we aim to achieve the quickest and most cost effective outcome for all our clients. If you would like to speak to a senior solicitor for preliminary advice call Nick on 01925 759 510 or fill in the enquiry form at the side of this page.
I have blogged about this before here but this is worth keeping an eye on, especially section 75A which is often overlooked.
Where you have paid for something wholly or partially on your credit card (total value between £100 and £30,000 – section 75) or bought larger items or services under a finance agreement (between £30,000 and £62,260 – section 75A) the credit card or finance company is jointly liable for any defects in the item or services purchased with the supplier who you bought them from.
You do not have to pursue the supplier before you can claim from the credit company.
For further help or advice on this call Nick on 01925 759 510 or fill in the contact form at the side of this page.
I am a solicitor who will be dealing with your claim personally, I am not a claims management company nor will I pass your case on to an army of minions!
I have blogged about this before here. Enforcing an Ombudsman’s decision in court is necessary when the company does not do or pay what the Ombudsman has decided or awarded.
This is particularly so in these times where the financial sector is coming under more scrutiny and criticism than ever (and rightly so in my view!).
If the Company is delaying or refusing to pay you what the Ombudsman has awarded or starting to negotiate new terms for payment (eg instalments), you DO NOT have to accept their terms.
This applies to both consumers and businesses.
Take steps to enforce the award through the courts. You will need to have the Financial Ombudsman’s award “converted” into a “court order”. You do this by applying to your local county court using one of 2 forms.
Which Form Do I Use?
Use Form N322A when the court’s permission may be required eg if the Ombudsman’s award is conditional on one of the parties taking certain steps.
Use Form N322B where your award is a sum of money or a figure to be worked out using a formula set by the Ombudsman and no permission is required. There is currently no fee required for making such application.
I Have a Court Order What Do I Do?
You can enforce a court order for a sum of money in several ways, which I will cover in a separate blog.
There may be fees for these steps eg instructing the bailiffs using a “warrant of control”.
Whilst you could do this yourself, it can be complicated and drawn out.
If you would prefer to ask for help with this call Nick, a solicitor on 01925 759 510 for a free initial view on your claim.
Fire, hot machinery, hot ingredients (both solid and liquid whether in the manufacturing sector or food industry), hot water, steam, molten liquids, chemicals, acids or alkalis, friction – however, you have been burned it can be unpleasant at best and at the other end of the spectrum burns can be serious and even life threatening.
Burn type injuries can also be suffered from extreme cold, whether chemicals such as liquid nitrogen or liquid helium or cold surfaces (especially metal).
For example, Total Lindsey Oil Refinery has recently been fined by the Health and Safety Executive after a worker suffered serious burns when he stepped through the open lid on the top of his tanker into molten sulphur in October 2013. The oil company was deemed to have failed to operate an effective safe system of work and to have failed to have identified or assessed the risks of working on top of the tanker. As well as a fine the HSE served an improvement notice on Total requiring them to improve their systems which they have done.
If you have suffered a burn and would like some advice call Nick at Sentinels Solicitors on the above number or fill in the contact form at the side of this page.
In June 2014 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined both Credit Suisse International (CSI) and Yorkshire Building Society (YBS) for failing to ensure financial promotions for CSI’s Cliquet Product were clear, fair and not misleading. CSI was fined £2,398,100 and YBS was fined £1,429,000.
The Cliquet Product is a ‘capital protected’ 4, 5 or 6 year structured deposit. In addition to returning original capital, the product is designed to pay returns relating to FTSE performance. The Cliquet Product was sold under various names, including: ‘Protected Capital Plus Account’, ‘Guaranteed Capital Account’, ‘Protected Capital Account’, ‘Capital Plus Account’, ‘Guaranteed Capital Plus Account’ and ‘Guaranteed Investment Account’. The product was typically sold to unsophisticated investors with limited investment experience and knowledge. 83,777 customers invested a total of £797,380,716 in the product.
The FCA found the probability of achieving only the minimum return was 40-50% and the probability of achieving the maximum return was close to 0%. Despite this, CSI’s and YBS’s financial promotions marketed the potential maximum return on the product as a key promotional feature.
According to Tracey McDermott, FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, “CSI and YBS knew that the chances of receiving the maximum return were close to zero but they nevertheless highlighted this as a key promotional feature of the product. This was unacceptable.”
If you have purchased one of these products you ought to consider whether to make a claim for misselling.
If you need help with this do not hesitate to call Nick for an informal discussion on 01925 759 510 or complete the enquiry form on the right of the page. I am a senior solicitor who would deal with your claim/complaint personally.
The Financial Conduct Authority has introduced new rules limiting the amount of interest and charges pay day lenders can charge to borrowers.
The rules came in on 02-01-15 and:
1. limit the daily interest rate to 0.8%;
2. limit the fees in the case of default to £15; and
3. limit the maximum total interest payable on a loan to 100% of that loan, eg if you borrowed £100 you should never have to pay back more than £200 in total including interest.
You can read more on the FCA website. If you have paid more than this on loans taken out since then you should be able to reclaim the overpayments.
You may have already taken your complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman and received an award in your favour but then not been paid out by the pay day lender. You should be able to enforce the Ombudsman’s award.
If you have issues with pay day lenders or Financial Ombudsman awards and need legal advice call Nick a senior solicitor for advice on the number at the top of the page or fill in the contact form on the left of this page.