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While I have only skimmed the study, it states that "ADR processes can include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, adjudication or ombudsman schemes." This isn't just about consensual dispute resolution such as mediation.

95 different ADR providers are listed in an appendix, including the Legal Ombudsman and various trade associations. The article suggests that many (if not most) of the schemes can impose decisions (unlike in mediation) - reference is made to the ADR provider 'deciding' cases. Unsurprisingly, the article states that "where the ADR provider decided in favour of the consumer, 83% of consumers perceived the process to be fair. This dropped to 17% in cases where the decision was against the consumer or ended in compromise." More interesting still, "a similar, but less extreme, variation was seen for consumers who had opted for the courts (90% v 53%)".

It may be the case that all of these schemes are fair and reasonable, reaching outcomes which are fair and right (if imposed); but it is interesting that only 17% of consumers thought this when their complaint was not upheld, compared to 53% of those in court who accepted a decision against themselves, or a compromise.

That the government is interested in making these schemes better known and more widely used (privatising civil justice?) is interesting too, and doubtless is driven by a desire to reduce costs. However, as it stands, it isn't obvious from the report that the quality of justice in the various private schemes is as high as it is in the courts, or that the consumer - whom the government appears to champion (s/he votes, and there are more of them than there are lawyers) - is especially taken by these schemes.

I also wonder how consumers will know about the schemes, and which one their complaint or claim falls under.

Overall, it looks to me like a rather wishful bit of thinking about getting the private sector to resolve claims and complaints privately, off the government's books, and will likely fade away under more serious analysis, or when other concerns distract the government.

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