Kent has become the first local authority to be approved to provide Alternative Dispute Resolution services to consumers in a bid to resolve their complaints with traders.
The approval was granted by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) under arrangements delegated to it by the Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Consumer disputes worth between £100 and £40,000, including those relating to home maintenance, consumer goods and services, are covered by the council’s ADR scheme, so long as consumers have attempted to resolve the complaint with the trader first.
New legislation which came into effect last October now requires UK traders to inform consumers of an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body to help them resolve their complaints.
Andy Allen, ADR project leader at the CTSI, said: ‘Whilst some purchases and services provided can go smoothly, the internet is also peppered with horror stories about things that have gone wrong.
‘CTSI is pleased to see a local authority taking the initiative and becoming the first within its sphere to become an approved ADR scheme.
‘Kent County Council ADR is joining an expanding and increasingly effective ADR environment and we hope that it will be the first of many local authorities to either set up such schemes or have existing schemes approved. This approval makes a credible scheme even more credible to traders and consumers alike.’
Mark Rolfe of Kent County Council said: ‘Kent County Council is delighted to be the first local authority to achieve approval from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute for our ADR scheme. This scheme will provide a valuable service to both consumers and businesses, helping to resolve issues quickly and effectively.
‘As a result we hope that consumers will have even greater confidence to engage with those responsible businesses who use our scheme, safe in the knowledge that there is an independent system in place to resolve issues in the unlikely event that things go wrong.’