This research was conducted by Naomi Creutzfeldt, Chris Gill, Marine Cornelis, and Rachel MacPherson. It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and investigated how vulnerable energy consumers access justice in Europe.
The project found that despite Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) now being the dominant form of dispute resolution available to energy consumers, it fails to reach the most vulnerable and those most in need of justice. Rather, ADR is an ‘elite’ remedy that serves a narrow demographic and which is largely reactive to the needs of individuals with significant intellectual, financial and personal resources.
While ADR can make a difference for those who use it, this helps only the rare consumers who make it all the way to an ADR provider. There are a number of barriers that stand in the way of using ADR, and many of the theoretical benefits of ADR have yet to break those barriers down.
In terms of enhancing access to justice, much depends on the particular form of ADR that is deployed and the motivations behind that deployment. If access to justice is a principal driver and sufficient attention is paid to principles of good dispute system design, then we argue that ADR has significant potential to improve access to justice.
This research forms the basis of a book, please click here for further details.