What is WATRS?

The Water Redress Scheme (WATRS) adjudicates disputes between the customer and water and sewage companies or suppliers which have reached a state of deadlock.

WATRS has been designed to complement the mediation and investigation roles of the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater). If CCWater is unable to settle a customer’s dispute, WATRS will provide a final resolution that is binding upon water and sewage companies.

WATRS is an adjudication service based entirely on documentary evidence. The appointed Adjudicator will only consider the evidence submitted by the customer and the company and will have no direct contact with the parties to ensure full independence and impartiality.

In reaching their decision, the Adjudicator will consider all relevant law (such as The Water Industry Act 1991 and The Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2008), the company’s terms and conditions, the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) and what is most fair and reasonable in light of the circumstances.

Once the decision is issued the customer can decide to accept or reject the findings. If the customer accepts the decision the company is contractually bound to provide the redress ordered by the Adjudicator. If the customer decides to reject the decision the process has no effect on law and the customer is free to pursue their claim through the courts.

In order to achieve a fair and reasonable outcome for both parties to a dispute, WATRS adheres to the following principles:

  • Both the consumer and the company will be treated fairly and proportionately to ensure that neither party is unduly disadvantaged.
  • Adjudicators are independent and will at all times act objectively, promoting neither the position of the consumer nor that of the company.
  • Adjudicators will consider all the evidence presented by the parties, the specific circumstances of the case, and any other information directly relevant to the dispute.
  • Adjudicators shall consider whether it is fair and reasonable to request further information or evidence from either party to a dispute.
  • Equal consideration will be given to the word of the consumer and the word of the company.
  • Adjudicators will consider all relevant law, the company’s terms and conditions, the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) and any other relevant policy document.
  • Full reasons for any decision will always be provided.

WATRS is guided at all times by the following core principles:

  • Independence   

It must be independent of water companies and any other stakeholder (e.g. a consumer advocate) with a conflict of interest.

  • Fairness and impartiality

It must be able to take a neutral, objective and balanced view, and deliver outcomes based on clear policy/rules.

  • Proportionality   

It must undertake analysis and make decisions proportionate to the scale and nature of the problem.

  • Consistency   

It must ensure that decisions are clear and consistent from case to case.

  • Transparency

It must ensure that decisions are public so that they are seen to be made without prejudice; highlight systemic failings in policy or practice; have a deterrent effect and drive service improvements. The process must, however, maintain the confidentiality of individual complainants.

  • Effectiveness

It will meet its objectives and do so in a way that provides value-for-money through cost-effective, timely delivery.

  • Accountability 

It must be monitored and tested to ensure that it delivers efficient and effective outcomes for consumers, and that it is accountable to its users and the water industry.

  • Accessibility It must be available to all eligible complainants and easily available to consumers with different needs through the most appropriate channel (for example telephone, e-mail, website and letter); and it must ensure that its role is made clear so that consumers understand the process and know who to contact.

Please note that all companies who are part of the WATRS scheme pay towards its cost as there is no cost to the consumer. 

You can read our downloads to the left for help, or contact our team. 

CC Water

Visit the Consumer Council for Water (CC Water) for further information, help and advice about your water and sewerage service or supplier. Alternatively, you can email CCWater at enquiries@ccwater.org.uk, call on 0300 034 2222 (England) / 00300 034 3333 (Wales) or write to it at Consumer Council for Water, First Floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4AJ.

Oversight

The operation, independence and effectiveness of WATRS is overseen and assured by the WATRS Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel (the ADR Panel) which has been established to ensure the integrity of the Scheme. More details of the ADR Panel's work can be optained on the Resolving Water Disputes website. 

WATRS Review 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019

WATRS Review Cover Letter, 3rd Review Jan 2018

WATRS Third Review, Jan 2018

ADR Panel Terms of Reference 

The steps you must take before submitting a claim

Step 1.

The customer makes a complaint to the company directly and if the company isn’t able to resolve the dispute the matter is referred to CCWater for mediation and/or investigation. All cases must go first to CCWater before moving to the next stage of the process.

Step 2.

If CCWater are unable to settle the dispute, the customer can apply to WATRS for independent adjudication. WATRS receives and reviews the application form and evidence/information provided and sends the application to the company to respond to the application.

Step 3.

Once the complete case file is received, an independent adjudicator makes a final decision based on the available information. The customer can then decide whether to accept or reject the adjudicator’s final decision. If the customer accepts, the company has to do what the adjudicator has said.

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