The UK government has now published the principal legislation that will implement the European ADR Directive and the European Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Regulation, both of which seek to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution schemes to resolve consumer disputes across the EU.
While the new legislative package does not impose any form of mandatory ADR, it does extend the obligations on businesses to provide consumers with information about ADR options.
Almost all UK businesses selling goods, services or digital content to consumers in the EU will need to ensure that they comply with the new requirements, which may involve reviewing websites, contractual terms and complaints handling procedures before the first operative date, 1 October 2015.
From 1 October 2015:
- All businesses that are legally obliged (or have committed) to use a certified ADR entity must provide information about that entity on their website and in any contractual terms with consumers
- All businesses (regardless of whether they are committed to using ADR or intend to use it) must, in the event of an unresolved consumer complaint, signpost the consumer to an appropriate certified ADR provider and advise whether or not the business agrees (or is obliged) to use ADR in the dispute.
From 9 January 2016:
- All businesses that sell goods or services online must provide on their website a link to the EU Commission’s ODR Platform (as must all online marketplace websites). Online traders who are committed to using ADR must also provide information about the ODR Platform in their contractual terms.
Read our briefing on the new rules here.
To be informed when we report on further developments (particularly when more details of the proposed EU ODR Platform are published), you can subscribe to our ‘ADR Notes‘ blog.
Jan O'NeillProfessional support lawyer, London
+44 20 7466 2202