We have added a new step to our customer complains code:-

Step 5: Non ADR - we pay you to use the real court and not ADR

We have to participate in an ADR scheme, however we would rather a fairer dispute resolution via the county courts.

If you are a small business or consumer that could take us to ADR, and we have not resolved your dispute after 8 weeks - we offer to let you take the matter to the real county court small claims track for no fee! Obviously, if we have issued county court proceedings against you then you already have the option to counter claim and this offer does not apply.

Ask us for a deadlock letter at 8 weeks and state that you would be happy to waive ADR and take the case to court at our expense.

If you agree not to take the matter to ADR and we agree to pay your fees - which we will do by email - we will pay your court fees for filing a claim against us in the county court small claims track. Simply file the claim on Money claim, pay the fee, and tell us the bank details to which the fee is to be repaid to you. Within 3 working days of us receiving the county court claim and your bank details we will credit your account with the court fees paid. If the case needs to go to a hearing and that requires another fee, then again, within 3 working days we will transfer payment for that additional fee.

In fact - we are so keen on cases being handled by a real court, and not ADR, that if you do this we will pay you a minimum of £100, or the court fees if higher, providing the complaint has got to a stage that you could take to ADR. Basically, ADR costs us money, and that would be better to be money sent to you than to a third party arbitrator.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, you get those payments from us as a non refundable good will gesture. Obviously if we lose the case, these payments are part of the settlement as your court fees and compensation.

P.S. since posting it, and as a result of comments, the exact offer is changes a tad. See http://aa.net.uk/legal-dispute.html and do let me have comments.


  1. I can see your thinking here - although as I understand it, the whole point of ADR is because courts are "scary". Making it free doesn't fix the "scary" bit - and if the claimant's heard that ADR seems to offer a payout even when AAISP's done nothing "wrong" per se, then there's still little incentive to go to court instead.

    The £100 minimum is "interesting" too - if I was leaving and feeling at all mischievous, I could create a frivolous claim, wait 8 weeks, file a court claim, withdraw it and get a minimum £100 (minus initial filing costs)! My final few weeks would be free that way!

    1. Indeed, the idea is that, if we have to pay for cases that get to that stage anyway, the customer may as well get benefit from that rather than the arbitrator, and it may get some way over the "scary" hurdle.

      I am also not saying we will accept every case, so if a case really was frivolous I could just say "fine, got to ADR".

      My problem is that if you have managed to make a convincing enough case, going to ADR costs me £335 regardless, so for now, offering £100 is cheaper for cases getting to that stage.

      If it does not work, we'll change the offer, or withdraw it.

    2. Maybe the offer should be that we will pay £50 to a charity of your choice too? Would that work better?

  2. I'd be interested to hear your opinion on this - courts are often reluctant or unwilling to take a case if "reasonable" effort hasn't been exercised to exhaust other methods of resolution prior to filing a claim with the court. Since ADR is a statutory mechanism intended for exactly that (albeit at least partly dysfunctional based on your experience), would the court take issue with the fact that you've intentionally encouraged the customer to skip that step? I think I think I'd be more confident in a court's ability to decide fairly, so I completely appreciate your point of view, but would a court see it that way?


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