About the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Scheme
Presently, consumers have a range of dispute resolution options to address their contractual disputes (telecoms and media) with service providers. These include the Consumer Association of Singapore (“CASE”) and the Small Claims Tribunal (“SCT”).
The ADR Scheme adds to this list of dispute resolution options with the aim of providing an affordable and effective dispute resolution alternative for consumers facing contractual disputes with their service providers.
The ADR Scheme is meant to supplement the range of dispute resolution options that consumers have. Discover how IMDA regulations on the ADR scheme can help resolve disputes related to Infocomm services and products in a fair and efficient manner.
Mandatory Service Provider Participation
The ADR Scheme is designed with the consumer in mind and differentiates itself from other existing dispute resolution options by ensuring a more level playing field between the disputing parties. To this end, once consumers have elected to proceed with the ADR process, service provider participation is mandated by law.
The ADR Scheme covers disputes or issues related to all telecoms and media services, with a maximum dispute value of $10,000. The dispute must also have occurred within the past one year and should be resolvable through service recovery efforts or compensated for in kind or in monetary terms.
- Over-The-Top (“OTT”) Services (e.g Spotify, Netflix, etc)
- Bill-on-behalf Services (e.g App store purchases), except for Premium Rate Services (mobile content services such as news services, ringtone/game downloads, etc);
- Payphone Services;
- Directory Services.
- Cases that are criminal offences or regulatory matters undergoing investigation by any public agency;
- Cases which have been subject to a Court hearing/SCT, for which a judgment or order has been passed;
- Cases in the midst of Court proceedings or SCT proceedings, or facilitated by other ADR bodies;
- Cases that have already been closed under the Scheme in which there is no new relevant information to support the case; (to prevent repeated filings on the same matter)
- Cases pertaining to telecommunication and media policies;
- Cases arising from Service Providers providing assistance to law enforcement or other government agencies;
- Commercial decisions, including decisions relating to services that Service Providers should offer, how such services should be priced and offered, and credit assessment decisions or policies;
- The content of services provided, including smartphone applications, premium services, Internet sites and TV; and
- Cases that are considered by SMC to be frivolous or vexatious;
- Defects, faults, or failure in or of third-party equipment that are not owned, operated, installed and/or hired out by Service Providers;
- Loss of revenue or profits caused by or arising from any failure of Service Providers to provide service;
- Customer service, including call centre performance;
- Legal costs incurred by Applicable Subscribers; and
- Non-billing related performance and service levels of international roaming services.
Individuals and small business customers are eligible for the Scheme. Please click below to check if you are an eligible small business customer.
Small Business Customer Eligibility
Applicable Businesses are business entities that register an annual revenue of up to S$1 million each, and which have a total spending of up to S$5,000 each on telecommunication or subscription TV services with Service Providers over the past six (6) months. This excludes unpaid bills carried prior to the six (6) month reference period. The annual spending would be based on the amount billed by Service Providers in the preceding twelve (12) months.
SMC shall require Applicable Businesses to declare their eligibility according to the definition of an Applicable Business as specified under the Scheme.
Two-Step ADR Process
The formal ADR process is a two-step one administered by a neutral third party, the Singapore Mediation Centre (“SMC”) appointed by IMDA.
The first step is a facilitated agreement (mediation) whereby a mediator will help the disputing parties reach a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the consumer may choose to escalate to the second step (determination) whereby a determinant will render a binding decision or determination. Consumers have the option to bypass the first step and go direct to the second step.
Prior to the formal ADR process, consumers will be required to provide service providers with a 14 day Notice of Intention (“NOI”). During this period, consumers will be provided an opportunity to reach a settlement with service providers before the formal ADR process.
For more information about the ADR processes, please click below.
The notice of intention is a 14 day period where the service provider is informed of a consumer’s intent to raise and resolve a dispute under the ADR Scheme.
During this period, the service provider and consumer are given an opportunity (via SMC’s online chat platform) to negotiate and reach a settlement before commencement of mediation or direct determination.
The use of SMC’s platform is free-of-charge for this stage.
Mediation is a process whereby an appointed mediator will help to facilitate parties to the dispute to reach a mutual agreement/settlement based on the supporting information provided (by both parties).
This process is by default an online one and conducted via SMC online chat platform. The chat mechanics is similar to a WhatsApp chat and is a private one open only to the consumer, mediator and service provider.
SMC will take no more than six business days to appoint a mediator. Mediation will run for 10 working days.
Determination is a process whereby an appointed determinant will render a decision to a dispute based on the supporting information provided (by both parties). The decision rendered is final and binding on both consumers and service providers.
This process is a documents-based one – i.e. there will not be any chat or hearing(s). Parties will be required to provide the relevant supporting documents for the determinant’s assessment and determination.
SMC will take no more than seven business days to appoint a determinant. The determinant will render a decision within 14 working days.
The NOI and formal ADR processes are by default online processes. Consumers may elect for face-to-face processes by applying over the counter at SMC’s office. For more details about the face-to-face process, please see below.
Eligible Customers who are not technologically savvy and require further assistance may be offered in-person Mediation or documents-based Determination upon request to the ADR operator. Such cases must be filed in person at SMC’s office during SMC office hours. The date of such an in-person mediation session will be fixed for no earlier than one (1) calendar month after the receipt of the request.
Online - $100
After mediation - $750
Direct without mediation - $750
ADR Scheme At A Glance
How to apply?
You may place your application at SMC’s portal via the below links.
When applying, please make sure to provide the required information accurately (see below checklist). Failure to do so may result in unsuccessful applications.
Confirm that you have approached your service provider to resolve the issue/dispute first
Check that customer details are provided accurately
(incl. selecting the correct service provider)
Check whether you are an eligible applicant
Refer to section on "Criteria"
Check whether dispute is eligible (or excluded)
Refer to section on "Exceptions List"
Check that the dispute value does not exceed S$10,000;
Check that the dispute occured within the past one (1) year
Check that the dispute can be resolved through service recovery efforts or compensated in kind or monetary terms (e.g., refunds or bill waivers)
Check that you understand the Scheme fees
Refer to section on Fees
For more information, please email SMC at firstname.lastname@example.org OR +65 6252 4226.