Chief Ombudsman of the Ombudsman Service Lewis Shand Smith assesses the major shifts being felt across the civil justice landscape in the UK, in this policy brief published in association with Ombudsman Services.
The policy brief explores the implications of the recent European Commission Directive 2013/11/EU, due for implementation before the next UK general election in 2015, which requires Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) entities to be available for all business-to-consumer disputes.
Shand Smith argues that, in the wake of changes to legal aid and other measures, courtroom-based approaches to dispute resolution, already lengthy and costly, deter consumers from pursuing justice.
He proposes that, by harmonizing services and making their role clearer to the public, ombudsman schemes can bridge the gap in the delivery of civil justice for consumers. In doing so, they can also help business by providing feedback on the nature and cause of complaints, thereby supporting efforts towards self-regulation and improved services, and informing policy and practice.