Normally we will take a long time before taking someone that owes us money to court. We try and sort any misunderstandings or disagreements and get the money by amicable means. We even allow people to pay by installments. There are lots of things we try to do to be reasonable and not heavy handed.
However, one of the shocking things about this ADR case is that they took the case on even though we were taking the customer to court for unpaid invoices. They then went on to consider the unpaid invoices in their decision - requiring us to waive invoices for services that were provided and used but not paid for.
So it seems ADR can be used as a means to get out of paying your telco, even after the telco has started proceedings in the county court.
So, in future, given that they won't take a case until it is 8 weeks old (well, that is what they say, but who knows what they do - contracts and agreements mean little to these people), we will have to ensure any case where someone owes us money goes to court in enough time to get a decision by the court within 8 weeks.
We would hope that is a dispute is resolved by the court then it cannot go to ADR at that point. Again, this is a huge assumption.
That should be slightly easier on business to business disputes as the court allow a lot less time for a defence to be filed - but even so 8 weeks is pushing it.
It means we'll have to start court proceedings after a week or two at the most if someone owes us money and has not paid.
Otherwise the customer can blackmail us by threatening to take the matter to ADR, knowing that we not only have to pay £335 even if we are right, but we could have the invoices waived and substantial good will awards made against us, even if we are in the right too.
If that is what OFCOM want by insisting on ADR, then that is what they get. Sorry.
P.S. To qualify this - this is obviously something of a devil's advocate type of posting, and we are talking about people refusing to pay. Once the dispute is started there are 8 weeks in which we can get the dispute resolved by a real judge following normal contract law. If we fail then we are subject to some alternative reality legal system that charges us when we win and even awards penalties against us when they agree we are in the right. That is when we have to act quickly. We have no choice - as a director I have to act in the interests of the shareholders and the company - that is the law.