Providing Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – or arbitration - became UK law from 1st October 2015 for all businesses that sell to consumers. For the glazing sector this means that where an installer has exhausted its Complaints Procedure and the matter remains in dispute it is legally compelled to give the consumer the contact details of an approved glazing sector ADR service to progress the complaint to arbitration.
One solution is to opt in to FENSA’s arrangement with The Glazing Arbitration Scheme (TGAS), which is an approved glazing sector Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. These services to FENSA certified installers start from 1st January 2016. This is part of the new FENSA ‘package’ and registration with TGAS is free. Other providers are available.
Under TGAS any decision on matters relating to Building Regulations compliance will not form part of any arbitration.
TGAS charges consumers £100 to take a complaint to arbitration. This is to encourage only justified complaints and avoid any frivolous or vexatious complaints and protect installers from unjustified costs and administration time. The costs for an installer to go through the arbitration process starts at £395 (ex VAT) per complaint. Where an installation company has opted in to be a member of TGAS, then they are to proceed to arbitration when a consumer takes their complaint to TGAS after at least 56 days have elapsed since the complaint was raised with FENSA and there is still an unresolved dispute. As part of the rules of TGAS arbitration the company and the consumer will be bound by the arbitration decision.
The use of ADR arbitration services costs far less and takes less time to resolve than going through the Courts.
If a window installer decides not opt in to TGAS, they must alternatively comply with their legal obligation to give the consumer the contact details of an alternative approved glazing sector ADR service when there is an unresolved complaint, and at that time they must inform the consumer whether or not they are prepared to use that ADR service.
“Free registration with TGAS provides FENSA installers with the fastest way to comply with these new consumer laws,” commented Chris Mayne, FENSA managing director. “Though we do not predict that our installers will have to make heavy use of this service – the new law does state that these arrangements have to be in place.”
TGAS is operated independently by a Trading Standards Institute Certified ADR body, the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), that has worked with the Glass & Glazing Federation for several years on the well-established GGF Arbitration Scheme. A website that will provide clear information for both consumers and installers, www.tgas.org.uk, is currently under construction.
FENSA installers can email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or to sign up