Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

As a Chartered Trading Standards Institute approved ADR Competent Authority, DGCOS provides unbiased dispute resolution services completely FREE of charge for homeowners.

DGCOS is approved by Government under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015

What is alternative dispute resolution (ADR)?

Alternative dispute resolution is where a ‘neutral person’ helps the parties try to reach a settlement, preferably a negotiated settlement. The ‘neutral person’ could be an officer of DGCOS or someone appointed by DGCOS to discuss the problems with both parties to try to reach an agreement without the need to progress to the Ombudsman. Mediation and conciliation are mechanisms designed to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion but may not provide the final and binding resolution of a dispute.

Why do I need ADR?

In certain circumstances, you may find that you are unable to reach a conclusion with an installer in the event of a dispute. It’s in these times when ADR can help find a resolution to your complaint. ADR is unbiased and will find a fair resolution to the dispute and agree this with both parties.

What does ADR involve?

Mediation and conciliation

Mediation and conciliation are a voluntary process to help settle a dispute. It’s a flexible way to help reach a speedy conclusion but it may not provide a final and binding resolution of a dispute. At DGCOS we appoint an officer to discuss the problems with both parties to try to reach an agreement without the need to progress to the Ombudsman.

Independent inspections

The mediator/conciliator may, at any time, deem it necessary to instruct an independent inspector to carry out an inspection of the installation undertaken by the DGCOS member and provide a report. The report may then be used by the mediator/conciliator to further the mediation/conciliation process in an attempt to reach an agreed resolution between the parties. For transparency, copies of the report will be supplied to all parties in the dispute with each party being given time to review the contents prior to continuation of the mediation/conciliation process.

All of our dispute resolution services are free of charge to consumers.

Who are the DGCOS ADR team?

Our Dispute Resolution Officers (DROs) are friendly, approachable and down-to-earth. They have many years’ experience and are experts in successfully resolving numerous disputes. They are trained to listen and to provide a firm and a fair helping hand to consumers and DGCOS members. They help to get the complaint resolved as quickly as possible with the most appropriate outcome. They also work closely with companies to provide one-to-one support and industry-wide advice; this helps to improve the way services are delivered and complaints are handled.

What is DGCOS’s process?

Our processes are designed to be high quality, proportionate and effective. We have industry-leading ADR services with disputes being resolved on average within 3.59 days.

If the consumer chooses not to accept our decision, their (the complainant) legal rights remain unaffected and they can take the matter to court – subject to any requirements set by the courts.

We ensure our services are widely accessible. We base our decisions on what is fair and reasonable.

If one of the parties has sought to deliberately mislead us on a matter relating to the existence or non-existence of one of the grounds for refusing to deal with the dispute, we retain the right to immediately refuse to deal with the dispute any further, even after the three-week deadline has passed.

When we make a decision we take into account:

– both sides of the story;
– regulatory rules, guidance and standards;
– our codes of practice, relevant law and regulations;
– what is accepted as good industry practice.

We will accept cross-border complaints, which is where the trader and consumer reside in different countries.

Consumers can be represented or assisted by a third party.

Consumers do not need to get any independent advice from a solicitor to access our services.

If we accept your complaint we will decide the best way to resolve it and will aim to find a resolution that both you and the company agree on.

The legal effect of the outcome of our procedure is binding on our members, not on the consumer.

You can withdraw from the process at any point. In exceptional circumstances, where the Ombudsman considers it necessary (as a matter of sole discretion) a site visit, an expert report or a face-to-face meeting (or hearing) may be arranged.

Consumers can request all the documents we hold in relation to their complaint.

How to complain and who to complain to

Before we can accept your complaint you must give the company a reasonable opportunity to resolve it. If you receive the company’s final position on the complaint (deadlock) and you remain unhappy, or eight weeks pass and the complaint remains unresolved, we may be able to help.

Initial complaint submissions can be written in any language that can be translated by Google Translate. Our responses, however, will be in English only.

Our procedures can be conducted by both oral and written means, in English.

If you would like to make a complaint to us then please complete our online form.

Main reasons complaints are rejected

There are times when we are unable to accept a complaint request. Some of the reasons include:

– the customer has not first attempted to resolve the complaint directly with the trader;
– the dispute is frivolous or vexatious;
– the dispute is currently being, or has in the past been, considered by another ADR scheme or court;
– the value of the claim exceeds the maximum value of an award that we can make;
– the company was not a member of one of our schemes during the period the work was carried out;
– the customer has not submitted the dispute within the required time and;
– dealing with the dispute would seriously impair the effective operation of our schemes.

What happens if ADR doesn’t work?

In the unfortunate event ADR doesn’t work you will have free access to the Ombudsman.


I am very pleased with the service we have received from DGCOS.

Andrew Gledhill
Andrew Gledhill
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