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.
This policy brief outlines major developments and issues in consumer dispute resolution systems in Europe that were highlighted at the conference 'Consumer ADR: Delivering Fairness and Justice for Consumers, Business and Markets' held at Wolfson College, Oxford on 18 and 19 March 2019.
This policy brief, written by Dr Christopher Hodges and Professor Stefan Vogenauer of Oxford University, is published as costs and funding are assuming far greater importance as keys to evaluating and providing access to justice.
The findings were drawn upon by Lord Justice Jackson in his influential Costs Review which recommended moving to American style contingency fees, a recommendation that is widely expected to be implemented by the UK coalition government.
Drawing on the scientific findings of behavioural psychology research, the authors find that there is little empirical evidence that traditional theories of deterrence affect future business behaviour, and that a collaborative, positive approach between business and regulators is most effective in improving behaviour along ethical lines.