Since 1 October 2015, under changes introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, it has been compulsory for most businesses to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to their customers if a complaint arises between them which cannot be settled by negotiation.
ADR is a process designed to resolve complaints without the need to resort to legal proceedings. It is less formal, and normally faster and less costly, than legal proceedings.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 require a business which finds itself in this situation to inform its customer by a 'durable' medium (i.e. in writing or by fax or email) that it cannot settle the complaint, and to inform the customer of the web address of a provider of ADR services competent to deal with the complaint and whether or not the business is obliged to, or will, participate in an ADR process operated by that organisation.
From January 2016, all businesses that sell goods or services online must put on their website a link to the EU Commission's Online Dispute Resolution platform.
Information on the changes introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 can be found on the Government's website.