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August 05, 2015

 
 
The Public Service Ombudsman in Gibraltar has been appointed by HM Government of Gibraltar to be the Competent Authority for Gibraltar for the purposes of the Consumer (Alternative Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2015. 
 
As the title of the Regulations suggest, these provisions are aimed at consumers and have no effect in disputes between traders.  A “consumer” is defined as a natural person who is acting for purposes which are outside his trade, business, craft or profession. 
 
It will soon be possible to resolve consumer/trader disputes via the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) route. There are different types of ADR avenues such as Mediation where the mediator is a neutral third party and facilitates rather than direct the process of reconciliation. This contrasts with Negotiation where there is no intervention by a third party allowing those in conflict to talk to each other and seek to agree on common ground so as to reach an agreement. Arbitration, like Mediation and Negotiation is another form of ADR. Arbitration is aimed at reaching resolution of a dispute short of going to court. 
 
The Regulations apply to procedures for the out-of-court resolution of domestic and cross-border disputes. The relevant disputes are contractual obligations stemming from sales contracts or service contracts between a trader (established in the European Union) and a consumer resident in the European Union. 
 
ADR entities wishing to offer their services will now have to register with the Public Services Ombudsman.  The Ombudsman, Mario Hook, stated that his office will make preparations for the registration of those entities wishing to offer ADR services as per the provisions of the Regulations.