Fabian Demicoli

EU Introduces New system for Alternative Dispute Resolution


The Council this week adopted a
directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and a regulation on Online
Dispute Resolution (ODR). The new system, which is part of the
"Single Market Act" package, will provide for simple, fast and
low-cost out-of-court settlement procedures designed to resolve disputes
between consumers and traders arising from the sales of goods and services,
without long judicial proceedings.

The efficiency of ODR procedures will
also increase the volume of online shopping, especially those made by traders
in other EU countries.

The directive ADR is a win-win
situation for buyers and for sellers. A mechanism of EU rapid action that is
low-cost will save consumers billions of Euros per year and will encourage
cross-border online trade, a fundamental stimulus for growth.

On the plus side to business, they will
prevent damage to their image and will satisfy the needs of customers in a
simple and effective manner.

Companies that commit themselves to use
this service will be required to inform consumers on their websites and in the
clauses relating to the terms and conditions of sale.

Many Member States have already
introduced systems of alternative dispute resolution, but the lack of
information and uniformity in coverage or overloading of procedures make it difficult
to use.

The new Directive requires Member
States to provide ADR entities for all sectors of activity and introduce
provisions to ensure the impartiality of mediators.

Member States will have two years to
implement the ADR/ODR rules. The ODR platform will connect all national ADR
entities. The ODR platform will be operational at the end of 2015. This
single point of access should provide the facility for an interactive website
that is easy to use, free and available in all official EU languages.

Commercial operators that chose to
utilise the system will also make available on their websites an electronic
link to the ODR platform to inform consumers.

More information on ADR is available
at: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/redress_cons/schemes_en.htm

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