This article was first published in the June 2015 international edition of Accounting and Business magazine.

The EU’s alternative dispute resolution directive made its way into UK legislation in March, and will affect consumers, providers of goods and services, and providers of alternative dispute resolution services. 

The regulations are formally known as the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015. Their purpose is to ensure that alternative dispute resolution is available for all contractual disputes arising out of complaints by consumers, and ACCA has produced a factsheet providing guidance for practitioners.

ACCA already provides alternative dispute resolution, through its conciliation service, but the factsheet explains the impact of the recent legislation on ACCA’s policies and procedures, and how ACCA delivers conciliation. It also highlights a number of resources available to members that can help them with compliance.

The new regulations lay down that once a firm’s internal complaints procedure has been exhausted, it is required to communicate certain matters to a client, including that ACCA is competent to deal with the complaint, and whether the practice would be prepared to submit to ACCA’s conciliation process should ACCA consider the complaint suitable for conciliation. 

Although an ACCA member is required to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint, there is no obligation to submit to the conciliation process.

ACCA and its members must comply with the new regulations by 9 July 2015. Technical factsheet 192 is available on the ACCA website, and there is also a guidance note to assist members in implementing internal complaints handling procedures.