How do we remain impartial as an organisation?
Sitting in between consumers and our UK-wide network of accredited businesses, impartiality lies at the very heart of the work of The Motor Ombudsman. This means that we always treat everyone equally during the resolution of disputes in the automotive sector, whilst also making sure that any case outcomes are based on the evidence given to us by all parties involved in the complaint.
What is impartiality?
The word ‘impartiality’ is defined in the Cambridge English Dictionary as “the fact of not supporting any of the sides involved in an argument” i.e. adopting a neutral position and not favouring one party over another.
To ensure that our unbiased position in the motor industry is never compromised, we are overseen by other bodies, and we also have to meet strict requirements in the way that we operate as an Ombudsman.
What makes us impartial in the way that we work?
1. The role of our Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director is purely a commercial one
Our impartiality starts at the very top of our organisation, and our Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director is solely tasked with the day-to-day running of The Motor Ombudsman. He is therefore prevented from influencing any aspect of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process.
2. Our Board of Directors closely monitors how we work
In addition, our Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director meets with our Board of Directors once every quarter to discuss the way that our organisation is handling customer cases, so as to once again make sure that we are operating correctly as an Ombudsman.
3. We are overseen by the Independent Compliance Assessment Panel (ICAP)
From an external point of view, overseeing that we remain impartial in all cases that we work on is a body called the Independent Compliance Assessment Panel (ICAP). The majority of ICAP members are from non-automotive backgrounds, for example from other Ombudsman schemes and the consumer lobby, so they can provide a balanced opinion that is completely unaffected by any day-to-day work in the automotive sphere.
We meet with them three times a year to review a random selection of cases in order to check that the outcomes and final decisions reached by our adjudicators and ombudsmen have been fair and reasonable. Furthermore, a summary of the disputes that have been discussed are published in our Annual Compliance Reports, which are available to view here.
4. We meet Ombudsman Association (OA) criteria
As an Ombudsman, we meet the Ombudsman Association’s membership criteria of: Independence; Fairness; Effectiveness; Openness and transparency; and Accountability. In addition, we work in line with their Service Standards Framework, a ‘roadmap’ which we use to embed good operational practice across our hierarchy. The OA’s criteria and frameworks are recognised by UK Government as representing best practice. Every five years we go through a re-validation process to ensure that we are still meeting OA best practice criteria.
5. We show examples of how we have reached our decisions
We demonstrate the above values of ‘transparency’ and ‘fairness’ by publishing case studies on our website on a monthly basis to show others how we have reached our adjudication outcomes and final decisions across our four Codes of Practice.
6. We are audited by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
Finally, as a certified provider of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), we are audited every year by the Chartered Trading Standards institute (CTSI), the organisation that oversees ADR providers for non-regulated sectors in the UK, e.g. the car industry. In addition, each of our four Codes of Practice are also checked annually by CTSI to ensure that they remain compliant with the stringent requirements of the Consumer Code Approval Scheme (CCAS).