Dispute resolution FAQs

What should we do if we receive a complaint?

The member of staff to whom the complaint is made should attempt to resolve it - or pass it to the Customer Relations Representative, who was nominated at The Motor Ombudsman registration stage.

The Customer Relations Representative should aim to resolve the complaint by providing a fair outcome to the consumer as quickly as possible - and, at the most, within eight weeks of receiving the complaint. It is best to respond in writing so that all parties have a record of events.

When can I start referring consumers to TMO?

As soon as you are accredited to one or more of the Codes, you can display that accreditation using the CTSI and our logo so consumers are aware - and, if you are responding to a consumer's complaint, you can advise them that you are accredited to TMO and would be willing to engage with our service.

What is the Information Line?

The Information line is available for both consumers and accredited businesses. Both parties can call 0345 241 3008 to seek guidance and, for consumers, to register a complaint. The Motor Ombudsman will assess the enquiry and provide the appropriate information.

What is early resolution?

Where consumers contacting us have registered a complaint and their vehicle is still at a garage, or we think the issue can be easily resolved, we might contact you to resolve the complaint more quickly without the need of a formal adjudication. We’ll give you 5 working days to provide us with your response and see if an outcome can be agreed.

However, if a resolution cannot be reached, the case may need to go for a formal adjudication. If that happens, we’ll give you a further 10 working days to provide us with your full complaint file.

What is adjudication?

Adjudication is a dispute resolution process which, by applying the commitments of the Code, aims to resolve disputes between a consumer and accredited business. The Motor Ombudsman will investigate a consumer's complaint and assess whether there has been any breach of the Code. We will listen to both sides of the story, gather information and use this to make a fair and independent decision based on the Code and any relevant law.


We’ll need you to provide us with your full business file. This means giving your response to the consumer’s concerns and giving any additional information to support your actions. Depending on the complaint, this could include:


  • Job cards
  • Invoices
  • Sales documentation
  • Terms and conditions
  • Photographs


We give you 10 working days to provide your side of the story, though this can be extended in exceptional circumstances. We may also ask you for further information at any point in the investigation, and we will expect you to provide the requested information within the time frame we set, which will usually be between 5 and 15 working days.

What is a final decision?

If either the accredited business or consumer disagrees with the adjudicator's decision, they can ask to have a final decision made by an ombudsman. The ombudsman will consider the initial outcome, although they are not bound by it, and may ask for further information. A final decision is the last step in our process - if a consumer is still unhappy, then they retain the right to take the matter to court.

Do we have to engage with your investigation process?

By becoming accredited to The Motor Ombudsman, it means you will agree to engage with our adjudication service - so it is compulsory for you to respond to a consumer's complaint. Additionally, if the ombudsman makes a final decision, this will be binding on you.

Monitoring - who monitors the Code?

The Independent Compliance Assessment Panel (ICAP), currently chaired by Tim Milson, is responsible for monitoring the operation of The Motor Ombudsman and accredited business compliance. Its role includes:

Monitoring the operations of the Code.

Reviewing cases of persistent or serious breaches of the Code by accredited businesses.

Imposing sanctions on an accredited business for non-compliance with the Code, ranging from education and continued monitoring, through to written warnings and expulsion from The Motor Ombudsman.

Highlighting poor working practices and making recommendations to the sector and businesses accredited to the Code, with a view to stabilising performance and, over time, minimising identified causes of consumer detriment.

ICAP fulfils the important monitoring, compliance and sanctioning elements of code operations required by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). The panel meets at least twice a year to assess the performance of accredited businesses and review the content and operation of the Code and its operating structures and processes.

What is the consumer survey?

The consumer survey provides customer feedback which is used in monitoring accredited business performance under the Code. The information gained from the survey results also allows ICAP to monitor the industry's performance under the Code of Practice and make necessary amendments to the Code.