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Various new “ombudsmen” have trumpeted their arrival on the ADR scene recently.  Consumers and businesses should be aware that these organisations will be issuing contractually binding decisions, unlike ProMediate, which offers a conciliation and mediation service through Click2Resolve.  Mediation is a voluntary process and the advantage is that there is no binding decision at the end of it.  The parties are free to reach their own resolution of the dispute without being imposed upon.  An ombudsman organisation will require that one or other of the parties accepts its decision on the dispute as final and binding on them.

Although the word “ombudsman” sounds official, there are no compulsory rules that such an organisation has to follow or be regulated by any body.  It is not a protected name in law and there is nothing to stop anyone setting up as an ombudsman, which is odd.

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