The below guidance notes will take you through the CISAS adjudication process and answer the most commonly asked questions. Please take the time to read through and familiarise yourself with the stages and timelines prior to submitting a claim. You can select one of the below to jump to a section. A PDF version is available for download at the bottom of the page.
CISAS is an Ofcom approved alternative dispute resolution scheme. It has been set up to resolve disputes between customers and providers of communication services such as broadband and mobile phone services.
CISAS is designed to adjudicate disputes that have not been resolved through the communication provider’s own complaints procedure.
Adjudication is a procedure for resolving disputes without resorting to lengthy and expensive court procedure.
Yes, the operation of CISAS is overseen by Ofcom, the government-appointed Competent Authority and regulator of the communications industry in the UK.
A legally-qualified CISAS Adjudicator who will have no direct contact with you or your communications provider to ensure full independence and impartiality.
The adjudicator will consider the following:
- The information you provide in your application along with any supporting evidence you submit;
- The evidence submitted by the company in response to your claim;
- All relevant law and any relevant terms and conditions;
- What is most fair and reasonable in the circumstances.
No, the appointed adjudicator will have no direct contact with you or the company to ensure full independence and impartiality.
CISAS will aim to send you a final decision within six weeks of receiving your completed application including your evidence.
No, you do not have to make an application to CISAS in order to resolve your dispute.
No, CISAS is a free service as per the Communications Act 2003.
No, you do not need a lawyer. You can use one if you like, but you will have to pay all of the legal (and other professional) costs you incur.
No, you must pay for any costs in preparing and submitting your case to CISAS. This includes any third party costs.
No, referring a dispute to CISAS does not remove your duty to pay the company any bills that are not part of your dispute.
Referring a Dispute to CISAS
An application to CISAS can be made after:
- You have exhausted the company’s complaints procedure, and / or
- It has been 8 weeks since you first raised your complaint with the company, and / or
- You have received a letter from the company telling you that they are unable to assist you further. This letter may be referred to as a ‘deadlock’ or ‘final response’ letter.
No, a ‘deadlock’ or ‘final response’ letter means that you can go to CISAS if you wish, but you can to go to another forum.
Yes, you have 12 months from the date that the company notified you that it is unable to resolve your complaint.
Yes, as long as you give them authority to act on your behalf and sign the declaration form.
You should read these guidance notes carefully before making an application to CISAS. The CISAS Rules detail the types of claim CISAS can deal with, how the case process works and what you can expect to happen.
We can deal with disputes related to:
- The quality of customer service received;
- Communication services provided to customers and any contracts or agreements made thereunder; and
- Premium rate services, Pay TV services, On Demand services and disputes about mobile handsets (please note that these matters can only be raised by individual (i.e. non-business) customers).
CISAS will assess your application against the above, and if your dispute does not fall within the scope of the scheme, you will be told by CISAS and your application will not go ahead.
The company concerned will also have the opportunity to object to the acceptance of your application if it considers that the dispute is outside the scope of the scheme. In this case, CISAS will rule on the validity of the application and the decision of CISAS will be final.
You should only apply if your dispute falls within the criteria of acceptable cases detailed above. If you are unsure, you can contact CISAS for further advice.
CISAS cannot deal with it the following:
- Claims which are made by someone who does not fall within the definition of a ‘customer’ (a customer is someone who buys goods or services rather than the user of those goods or services).
- Claims which are made against a communications provider that does not subscribe to CISAS.
- Cases where the customer has not complained to the company at all, or where it has been less than eight weeks since the customer first complained to the company and the company has not given notice to the customer that it is unable to resolve the complaint.
- Cases where the customer’s application to CISAS has been submitted more than twelve months from the date on which the company has given notice to the customer that it is unable to resolve the complaint (CISAS can extend this period in exceptional circumstances if both the customer and the company agree or if, in our opinion, the company has unreasonably delayed handling the complaint).
- A dispute which, in the opinion of CISAS, is more appropriately dealt with by a court, regulatory body, or other formal process.
- A dispute that is considered by CISAS to be frivolous and/or vexatious.
- A dispute that is the subject of an existing or previous valid application made under the Scheme.
- A dispute which has been or is the subject of court proceedings or an alternative independent procedure for the determination of disputes (unless such proceedings or alternative procedure have been abandoned, stayed or suspended).
£10,000 (including VAT) is the maximum amount. This sum includes any claims for compensation, refunds, credits and/or waivers. The adjudicator may direct the company to take action or provide you with a service but the total value of any claim including the cost of any action or services cannot exceed the maximum limit.
No, the sum includes any claims for compensation, refunds, credits and/or waivers.
It is important that you clearly explain the issues you have experienced and the actions that you are asking the adjudicator to direct the company to undertake.
Your application should include details of:
- the company’s service which the dispute is about;
- the events leading to the complaint;
- the exact issues which are in dispute;
- the steps already taken to attempt to resolve the issue with the company;
- the relevant dates for the service issues and prior steps to seek resolution;
- the reasons for requesting the remedy or remedies sought;
- the reasons and evidence in support of any compensation claimed;
- any relevant supporting documents – remember it will help your application if you can provide evidence to support your claim; and
- a copy of the deadlock letter from the company, if you have one.
It is also important to provide evidence that supports your claim. For example, if you are asking for a refund because you have been over charged, provide copies of bills and a copy of the contract that identifies the correct contract price.
Yes, the team is available to offer guidance about making an application. CISAS will make reasonable adjustments to assist the customer further, where appropriate.
However, CISAS will not be able to tell you how to set out your claim or provide advice on whether or not your claim will succeed.
After you make an application to CISAS any previous offers are withdrawn as you did not accept it. It would be up to the company to decide if they want to honour it or not.
You can accept any offer of settlement made by the company after you have made your application but before the adjudicator has sent you their decision. If you do accept an offer of settlement, the company will let CISAS know and the case will be closed.
Yes, the adjudicator may award you less than the company offered you. This is because you declined the original offer and it is no longer available.
No, CISAS is an impartial and independent; it will not act either for you or for the company.
Contact CISAS and we will contact the company. If the company continues to fail to comply with the settlement, CISAS can reopen the case and have an adjudicator look into the matter further.
CISAS can tell the company to provide or do any or all of the following:
- provide you with an explanation and/or an apology;
- provide you with a service;
- do something about one or more of your bills;
- take some specified action;
- provide you with financial compensation.
Remember that in all cases the adjudicator cannot order the company to pay you (or take actions) where the total monetary value exceeds £10,000.
No, CISAS is not a regulator and cannot impose fines on companies. The role of CISAS is to resolve individual disputes between customers and companies in an impartial manner.
You have 30 working days to tell CISAS whether you accept the adjudicator’s final decision. If you accept the decision, it will become binding on the company and they will have to do what the adjudicator has directed. If you do not tell CISAS that you accept the decision within 30 working days, the company doesn’t have to take further action.
No, you cannot accept the adjudicator’s decision after 30 working days from the date on which the decision was issued.
No, you can only accept or reject the adjudicator’s decision. If you choose to reject the decision, you can still make a claim in the courts if you wish. There is no process for appealing or changing the outcome of an adjudicator’s decision as it is final.
The company must act on the decision within 20 working days from the date on which we advise them you have that you have accepted the adjudicators findings.
If a company does not comply, you should contact CISAS and we will contact the company. If a company fails to comply with a decision, we may suspend or terminate their membership of CISAS and report them to Ofcom for a breach of General Condition 14 or the Communications Act 2003.
CISAS is owned by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution which is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998.