In the Queen’s speech the government announced that it would be looking at a conciliation service to deal with late payment disputes between businesses. BIS has now announced a consultation on setting up a Small Business Commissioner to handle disputes between small and larger businesses with whom they have a business relationship. These disputes may relate to pre-contractual negotiations as well as terms of the contract and new arrangements proposed once a contract is in place; for example if a firm feels it is being unfairly harmed by the other party’s behaviour.
It is said that the Commissioner will enable smaller firms to resolve disputes with other businesses and public bodies quickly and easily, preserving commercial relationships and without the need to go to Court. If the parties cannot agree on a contractual issue, the Commissioner will offer mediation. The Commissioner will also act like an ombudsman, investigating disputes and declaring findings.
This is an interesting development coming at a time when the EU ADR Directive is being implemented to allow for ADR between businesses and consumers.
There is a consultation which can be replied to online by 21 August which can be found at https://bisgovuk.citizenspace.com/enterprise-directorate/sbcommissioner
It is understood that the organisational structure will be sorted out by October 2015 and then the Commissioner will be launched in Spring 2016 earliest.Disclaimer: The information and any commentary on the law contained in this article is for information purposes only. No responsibility for the accuracy and correctness of the information and commentary or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. The article was written on the date shown and may not represent the law as it stands subsequently. For the avoidance of doubt, the views in this article are personal to the author and not attributable to any other individual or organisation.