The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) is the latest organisation to become an officially approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider, meaning that it can now take up complaints about wills and other related documents for anyone who uses the services of one of its members.
The IPW is a not-for-profit membership body for willwriters in Great Britain. Formed in 1991, it now has over 900 members, working within 265 will writing and estate planning companies.
The types of disputes covered by the ADR scheme include: wills, powers of attorney, advance directives and the administration of estates of people who have died.
CTSI is appointed by the UK government to audit and approve bodies which meet requirements of the consumer ADR Regulations (The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes – Competent Authorities and Information – Regulations) 2015.
Andy Allen, ADR project leader at the CTSI (the ADR auditing and awarding body), said: “Any kind of complaint can be difficult for a consumer, without adding to the stress by feeling that your complaint isn’t being listened to. Whilst most wills and related services will probably go smoothly, there are unfortunately occasions when they go wrong.
“If a consumer does have a valid complaint and feels that the willwriting company concerned isn’t resolving it to their satisfaction, there is now another avenue to do down.
“It is generally accepted that consumers are more willing to use ADR processes than to use the court process. It is also accepted that these ADR processes are much better at maintaining, or recovering, a positive relationship between the consumer and trader. For anyone who uses a willwriting service that’s a member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters that’s got to be good news.”
The use of the Institute of Professional Willwriters ADR procedure is limited to members of the IPW only. It is an arbitration scheme whose outcome is binding on the members. Members of IPW – the traders – are required to try to resolve the matter with the consumer through their in-house complaints procedure before escalating the complaint to the IPW ADR service, which is free.
New legislation now requires UK traders – which would include all willwriting companies – to inform consumers of an approved ADR body to help consumers resolve their complaints and state whether they will agree to use the ADR process with the consumer. The ADR body must be relevant to the sector in question. The legislation came into effect in October 2015.
Allen added: “Originally this ADR initiative came about as a result of a European Directive following the recognition that the court system was too slow and expensive as a practical way of dealing with consumer disputes. The reality is that more people don’t go to court, so this is an alternative to doing nothing.”