The government has today proposed creating an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme to help consumers resolve complaints without going to court.

Under consultation proposals for the EU Directive on Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution due to come into force next year, the ADR plans are intended to give consumers greater access to redress if something goes wrong with their purchase of goods.

Consumer minister Jenny Willott (pictured) said: ‘Consumers need to be confident that when a purchase goes wrong, the problem will be resolved quickly and easily without having to take it to court. Alternative dispute resolution is a faster, cheaper and more straightforward means of putting it right. 

‘We are trying to strike a balance that is fair to both consumers and business and which makes sure that we see the best result for all parties involved.’

The consultation is also calling for evidence on whether further reform is needed to simplify the ADR landscape to make it easier for consumers while balancing it against the cost to business.

ADR is already compulsory for the Financial Ombudsman Service, but remains limited in other areas such as disputes over passenger transport, water, construction, private parking and vehicle repair.

The government is proposing to create a consumer website and phone line. 

The consultation closes in June.