For a Small Business Commissioner role to work, it’s essential it has the right responsibilities, covering the whole of the UK; otherwise it’ll run the risk of not having the teeth to be able to make its mark.
“The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) sector remains confusing and difficult to navigate for small UK businesses, with many simply unaware of the alternatives to the court room. Bringing in a Small Business Commissioner can overcome over-complicated, lengthy and often expensive court process for small businesses quickly and cost-effectively,” says the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Chris Wilford.
Wilford believes that the new conciliation service should expand on the existing methods of ADR to confront poor payment practices and give small businesses the option of trying to settle their disputes outside of court. This will allow them to focus more on their day-to-day operations without becoming too bogged down in court proceedings.
He acknowledges, however, that there is a big question mark over the powers the Small Business Commissioner will be given. “Yes it will raise awareness and will be used to damage the reputation of businesses that unreasonably refuse to cooperate, but it must do more. It needs to be able to enforce its decisions effectively, and make sure the routes to successful mediation are efficient, quick and at a low cost. Its long-term goal needs to focus around being taken seriously.”
In the next instalment of the Late Payments series, we take a look at the recommendations and advice available for SMEs dealing with late payments…