History and function of the Access Disputes Committee

The Access Disputes Committee (“ADC”) was set up on 15 April 2005, pursuant to the multi-lateral contractual document known as the Network Code. The Access Dispute Resolution Rules form an annex to this Code and set out the various procedures for resolution for all “Access” disputes between parties associated with the national railway network of Great Britain.

The role of the ADC is to resource the proper operation of the dispute resolution procedures; appoint an Allocation Chair, Hearing Chairs, Industry Advisors and a Secretary; and to oversee the financial aspects of the dispute resolution service including agreeing budgets and accounts. The ADC does not itself determine a dispute – see below.

The ADC has eight members, viz one member elected as a representative of each Band or Class (as defined in Part C of the Network Code) and two members appointed to represent Network Rail. Since 1 August 2010, the Committee members have elected the Committee Chair annually from amongst their number. Between 15 April 2005 until 31 July 2010, a retained, legally qualified Disputes Chairman was ex-officio Committee Chairman.

From Rail Privatisation in 1994 up to 15 April 2005, Access disputes were handled by the Access Dispute Resolution Committee (“ADRC”), supported by two sub-committees, the Network and Vehicle Change Committee (“NVCC”) and the Timetabling Committee (“TTC”). All three bodies heard dispute cases and issued determinations.

From 15 April 2005 until 31 July 2010, this was done by either the members of an Access Disputes Panel (“ADP”) or a Timetabling Panel (“TTP”). These Panels of four persons were drawn from pools of designated elected members and Network Rail appointees, and chaired by the Disputes Chairman or one of two retained Panel Chairmen.

  1. All disputes arising out of an Access Agreement or the Network Code (or the Station/Depot Access Conditions) were referred to an ADP, the only exceptions being those that fell to be heard by a Timetabling Panel [see (ii) below] or which were prescribed to go to Mediation, Arbitration or Expert Determination.

  2. Disputes arising out of Part D or Condition H11.9(a) of the Network Code (including the Major Project notice provisions) fell to be heard by a TTP.

Since 1 August 2010, disputes have been determined by the Hearing Chair of either an Access Dispute Adjudication (“ADA”) or a TTP. A TTP hearing is still attended by a Panel of four persons drawn from a pool of designated elected members and Network Rail appointees; an ADA Chair is assisted by two Industry Advisors from a retained pool appointed by the ADC.

The composition of the various current bodies and arrangements relevant to their operation is specified in the Access Dispute Resolution Rules.

The forum for resolution of some types of dispute may be prescribed either directly within the terms of an Access contract or within one of the Access Conditions as being Mediation, Early Neutral Evaluation, Arbitration or Expert Determination conducted in accordance with the Access Dispute Resolution Rules; the Secretary makes the necessary arrangements.

Details of current Committee members, Minutes of Committee meetings and the determinations of all Access dispute hearings held since rail disaggregation and privatisation can be accessed via the Access Disputes Index Page.

Following abolition of the Rail Industry Disputes Resolution Committee with effect from 1 November 2015, the Access Disputes Committee became responsible for oversight of the CAHA Registrar, whilst the Secretary is deemed to act also as RIDR Secretary in any circumstances where that may become necessary. The amended RIDR Rules are provided on this website.