Meet Jo the small claims mediator

Meet Jo the small claims mediator

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has far reaching implications for the UK automotive industry and exists to reduce the time it takes to resolve customer complaints, time and costs spent in the courts and to improve consumers’ confidence in the companies that serve them.

We were introduced to Mediator Jo (Jo Holland) at Twitter and were keen to know more about this and how it works.

What is your job?

I am the CEO of Small Claims Mediation (UK) Ltd (SCM), an award winning ADR provider, certified by CTSI (The Chartered Trading Standards Institute) as a Consumer ADR Provider for the EU ADR Directive. I am a jack of all trades! I mediate as well as develop and run the business. I also speak at events and conferences. I love every second of my work!

What is your background?

From the age of 16 (1990) I joined the Civil Service and worked my way up the ranks becoming one of the youngest Senior Managers. I worked in VAT, Asylum and Immigration and finally promoted and moved into HMCTS. I went through an assessment process to see if I had any natural mediation skills, passing with flying colours, went on to train to be a mediator and took up the post of HMCTS Court Mediator for the East Midlands.

I had three babies along the way and juggled all this like crazy.

Why is mediation such big business today?

The Courts are busy places and there has always been a strong push towards mediation. This is why the Inhouse service was created. The Civil Procedure Rules have Pre Action Protocol that parties must follow and this includes attempting ADR before issuing proceedings.

Last October the EU brought in the ADR Directive which means that businesses selling goods/services to consumers should now identify and provide details of an Certified ADR provider in case of a dispute. There is still a way to go before all businesses get on board although Trading Standards have issued information on penalties for non compliance so it is something that all businesses should read up about and understand.

The mediation process is voluntary and whilst we would love all in dispute to use this process, no one is forced to.

My area focuses on the types of claims that would fall within the Small Claims Track, and
there is huge volume of these!

How does mediation work?

SCM have been trail blazers in the way we mediate. We mediate either over the telephone or online and set up this service developing it to be ready for the new ADR/ODR Directive. Mediation is such an empowering process, in my opinion, it is the only true type of dispute resolution that is an alternative to court.

Mediation does not rely solely on evidence, it can take into account feelings, wishes, interests and priorities. The outcomes can be far more imaginative than those that a Judge may order, which is great as sometimes we find it is not always about the money, an apology might be greatly appreciated.

It is also completely confidential and if the matter does not resolve at mediation all the
discussions and any offers made stay off the record.

It can also be great to maintain business relationships such as in B2B cases when an ongoing relationship is important. A mediator offers observations, tests out strengths and weaknesses of each perspective but does not tell the parties what to do. They make all the decisions.

Is there a common complaint area in your experience?

At the moment one in two cases we get via Trading Standards and Citizens’ Advice (CAB) is car-related including issues with dealers, garages and servicing stations.

What are the percentages of motorists’ success? Are there instances where the motorist is in the wrong?

The success and outcome is in the hands of the motorist and garage/dealer. Mediation is not always about ‘meeting in the middle’ and resolution can swing far to either side. It can depend on many things, especially the parties’ commitment to the process and how open minded and flexible they are.

How long does the process take and cost?

The ADR Directive stipulates that ADR should be free or nominal to the consumer. In some circumstances the business can pay the majority or all of the fee. A one hour mediation costs £50 per party. Parties choose the length of appointment dependent on the complexities of the dispute and all fees are fixed.

In mediation, fees are traditionally split as it is an even handed process. There is no power in balance when both have equally contributed, nor can there be a misconception of bias in favour of the one side who picked up the bill.

When the business is at fault can the motorist claim back her wasted time/loss of car and so on?

Just like a Court Claim the dispute can take into account loss of enjoyment and inconvenience factors. These are all in the pot for discussion and negotiation during the mediation process.

Thank you Jo. This is a very interesting topic and it’s good that the motor industry has access to professional ADR services.

But it’s a shame to read how busy you are!

To contact Jo Holland
Tel : 0800 1670700
Mobile : 07872584266

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