Solicitors now have until 1 October 2015 to comply with an EU directive on alternative dispute resolution (ADR). 

The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/452) have been amended, which implement the majority of the ADR directive (Directive 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes). 

As an existing ADR body, the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) is required to make some changes to its scheme rules to comply with the terms of the directive.

The two main changes are:

1. the time limit a client has to lodge a complaint with the LeO has increased from 6 to 12 months; and

2. information you give to clients regarding your complaints procedures.

The amendments to the regulations push back the in-force date of parts 4 and 5 to 1 October 2015 in respect of these information requirements. The increase in the time limit for lodging a complaint with the LeO will take effect from 9 July 2015 as planned.

Information requirements from 1 October 2015

You must:

  • include LeO’s name and web address on your website;
  • provide LeO’s name and web address in your terms of business;
  • inform the client, if you exhaust your internal complaints-handling procedure when considering a complaint, of the following:
    • you cannot settle the complaint with the client;
    • the name and web address of an ADR entity which would be competent to deal with the complaint, should the client wish to use ADR (ie LeO);
    • you are obliged to submit to the ADR procedure operated by LeO.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also published a paper summarising the changes in the law coming into effect in July.