Section 47: Membership of redress scheme
124.Section 47 enables the Secretary of State to make orders to require regulated providers to belong to a redress scheme (as defined in section 48(1)). The redress scheme must be one approved by the relevant regulator, or a scheme administered by the Secretary of State or by a person appointed by him and designated by him as an appropriate redress scheme (in which case the Secretary of State must be satisfied that it meets the criteria for approval by the relevant regulator – see section 47(8)).
125.“Redress scheme” is defined in section 48(1) as “a scheme under which consumer complaints may be made to, and investigated and determined by, an independent person (“the independent person”)”. For this purpose, the “independent person” must be independent of the provider against whom the complaint is made and independent of the relevant regulator in respect of that provider (section 48(2)).
126.The Secretary of State may limit the requirement to belong to a redress scheme to schemes which deal with certain types of complaint. Hence, it would be possible to exclude complaints in relation to certain matters from the requirement to belong to a redress scheme (subsections (2) to (3)). Before making an order to require regulated providers to belong to a redress scheme, the Secretary of State must consult the relevant regulator and persons who appear to be representative of persons who have an interest in the matter (subsection (4)). A consultation conducted prior to the commencement of the provisions of this section will count as complying with requirements on the Secretary of State under this section.
127.Subsection (6) requires the Secretary of State to seek the consent of Welsh Ministers before making an order which relates to a water undertaker or sewerage undertaker for an area which is wholly or mainly in Wales.
128.Subsection (7) provides that the Secretary of State may not make an order under this section unless he is satisfied that there is (or will be when the order comes into force) at least one redress scheme which each regulated provider to whom the order applies is able to join and which will satisfy the requirement imposed by the order. This is to ensure that the Secretary of State may not make an order requiring providers to belong to a redress scheme in circumstances where the providers subject to the order are unable to join a scheme since none exists.
129.Subsection (9) enables the Secretary of State to establish or administer a redress scheme. In practice, it is expected that suppliers or a trade association will establish their own redress scheme in respect of which approval will be sought for the purposes of any order under this section. However, in the event that business does not establish a scheme itself, the Secretary of State has the power to establish one.