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09th April 2013

EU adopts measures to facilitate the resolution of consumer disputes

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On 12 March 2013, the European Parliament plenary session adopted two legislative Resolutions on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for consumers.

On 12 March 2013, the European Parliament plenary session adopted two legislative Resolutions on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for consumers. The purpose of the Directive is to provide for simple, fast and affordable out-of-court settlement procedures designed to resolve disputes between consumers and traders arising from the sale of goods and services. The first Resolution adopts a Directive to implement ADR across the EU. The Directive will apply to EU wide commercial activity, allowing complaints to be submitted by customers of any EU business. The platform is intended to provide consumers with a fast and informal way to settle a dispute without the need to go to court. The Directive will not apply to complaints submitted by traders against consumers or to disputes between traders. The second Resolution deals with a Directive to adopt a European on-line dispute resolution platform (ODR Regulation). This platform will support the ADR Directive by providing the physical implementation of the new ADR procedure. The intention is that consumers will be able to log on to the online service free of charge from any EU state, and place a complaint about any commercial activity. The business users of the service will then be informed of the complaint through the system, and will be able to deal with it via the supported ADR process. The legislators hope that the platform will allow businesses to deal with disputes and complaints in a more cost effective manner, by potentially avoiding the costs of defending a dispute taken to court. Its success will no doubt be judged by how much use is made of the procedure and that will almost certainly depend on how quick and easy it is for consumers to use and get satisfaction. The reality is that the vast majority of consumer disputes are resolved through a supplier’s online complaints procedure or by a direct approach and this is likely to continue to be the case. The ADR Directive should come into operation within two years from April this year. The ODR platform should follow shortly after. For further information, please contact Dominic Hopkins on 01604 233233 or click here to email Dominic.