Credit: Nickolas Nikolic on Unsplash

To democratise access to justice, IMPRESS, the UK's only independent press regulator, is making its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services available to the general public. This initiative aims to address the power imbalance perpetuated by the high costs of the British court system and make justice more accessible and affordable.

Previously, these ADR services were exclusive to those enrolled in the IMPRESS regulatory scheme.

Chief executive Lexie Kirkconnell-Kawana said: "For too long, the cards have been stacked against the majority, with very few people able to access justice when they feel they have been wronged, or defend themselves when met with accusations.

"It has simply become too expensive. Ordinary people are effectively powerless if they are unfairly targeted by a well-resourced platform or media group, while independent journalists and smaller publishers also have no option but to cave in when met with a legal threat from those in positions of power designed to intimidate and silence them."

With the introduction of IMPRESS ADR, the landscape is changing. "Now, thanks to IMPRESS Alternative Dispute Resolution, everyone can get affordable and binding resolutions, leaving the press free to hold power to account and the public safe in the knowledge that they can access justice when they are wronged," Kirkconnell-Kawana added.

Many people believe that achieving justice requires a costly and time-consuming court battle. But with ADR, parties can reach legally binding outcomes without the drawn-out process and expense of traditional court proceedings.

Cordella Bart-Stewart, a solicitor with over 30 years of experience and an IMPRESS board member, said: "ADR is an alternative pathway to justice. It is often recommended by judges, parties can be sent away to at least try it, and in some cases, there can be financial penalties if a party has refused to consider ADR before issuing court proceedings. Whether you are a member of the public, work for charity, or in the media, IMPRESS is there to help you."

To further support its mission, IMPRESS is offering discounts on these services for charities and non-profits, ensuring that even the most financially constrained organisations can access fair dispute resolution. Meanwhile, publishers enrolled in the IMPRESS Regulatory Scheme will continue to enjoy complimentary access to these services as part of their membership.

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