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What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is the term for a wide range of processes and techniques that enable two or more disagreeing parties to mediate with an independent trained Mediator so as to come to an agreement without mitigation. It is a speedy and inexpensive method for the parties to negotiate the dispute in confidentiality.

Disputes can range across a variety of issues, sometimes its non-payment, claims of damaged goods etc. and sometimes its simply a lack of understanding and expectations creating a deadlock.

What are the benefits of ADR?

The main benefit of solving a problem with an alternative dispute resolution is that it is usually:

  • cheaper than going to court
  • more adaptable
  • speedier
  • less traumatic
  • the ADR procedure is confidential.

SBID Dispute Resolution service for Accredited members

The SBID Dispute Resolution was introduced for Accredited members in 2009. There was no evidence at that time of a specific Dispute Resolution service for interior designers, so we created a bespoke service for SBID members and later in 2019, having shared collated annual industry complaint statistics, expanded to accommodate industry complaints from the wider public. SBID and the the governments Intellectual Property Office created a Memorandum of Understanding for dispute resolution. 

This provides guidance and direction with support if or when things go wrong. It acts as a template example for consumers to resolve a dispute with any UK based design practice (trading under British Law) including non-recognised interior designers, although the guidelines for the Intellectual Property Office Mediation process is for SBID members only. However, the public can appoint a formally trained and independently accredited Mediator.

Importantly, the SBID collaborated with its partner TM-Eye, Metropolitan Police and the Department of Trading Standards to create pioneering standards for professional practice in the UK. The standards for rights-owners has been adopted generally by practitioners and other interior design organisations across the UK. An audit trail demonstrates what is now generally regarded as industry standards. The ultimate goal is to ensure the public are at all times protected.

*If you are a consumer/customer and have instructed an Interior Designer (not recognised or accredited by the SBID) we can only offer guidance.

How can I log a Complaint against an Interior Designer?

 The SBID provides industry guidelines for consumers to process a complaint against any interior designer. However it will only process and guide disputes relating to an SBID Accredited Interior Designer.

Please contact us and provide the following information:

1          Design Practice name

2          Basis and date when the dispute arose.

SBID will appoint a caseworker to  your complaint and the procedure for resolve will be laid out with a clear timeline.

What can I do if I’m still dissatisfied with the outcome?

 If you are unable to reach agreement with an SBID Accredited Designer, we can refer your complaint to SBID’s Mediation partner; Intellectual Property Office Mediation. The service is governed by trained Mediators with experience, knowledge and understanding of issues surrounding all elements of design best practice.

What if the problem isn’t resolved at Mediation?

 If you don’t resolve the dispute at Mediation you can progress to court to be reviewed and decided by a judge. Anything discussed or has occurred in mediation remains confidential. Going to court would however mean that the case must start all over with a fresh start. It would be advisable to work with an experienced lawyer who can help you understand your rights and work with you through the court system as this process can be complicated and stressful.


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