We have previously reported on EU legislative proposals for a directive on ADR in consumer disputes and a supporting regulation on online dispute resolution (ODR).

On 18 June 2013, the  ADR Directive  (Directive 2013/11/EU) and the ODR Regulation (Regulation (EU) 524/2013) were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.  Both will enter into force on 8 July 2013.

The key features of the legislation are outlined  in our earlier post, here.   In summary:

  • The ADR Directive seeks to promote ADR in the consumer sphere in the EU by encouraging the use of approved ADR entities that ensure minimum quality standards.  In particular, it requires Member States to ensure that their approved ADR entities are impartial and provide transparent information about their services, offer their services at no or nominal cost to the consumer, and hear and determine complaints within 90 days of referral.  The Directive applies to domestic and cross-border disputes concerning complaints by a consumer resident in the EU against a trader established in the EU.  Notably, it does not apply to traders’ complaints against consumers (such as claims for payment) or to trader-to-trader grievances.
  • The ODR Regulation provides for the EU Commission to establish a free, interactive website through which parties can inititate ADR in relation to disputes concerning online transactions (offline transactions are excluded).  National ADR entities will receive the complaint electronically and seek to resolve the dispute through ADR, using the ODR platform exclusively if they wish.

Nothing in the legislative package imposes any form of mandatory ADR on any party.    The use of ADR entities or the ODR platform will require the agreement of both the consumer and the trader.

EU Member States are required to bring into force the legislation and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the ADR Directive by 9 July 2015 at the latest.   The ODR Regulation, which is binding on Member States directly,  will take effect from 9 January 2016 in respect of the bulk of the provisions.

We will continue to report on developments with respect to the national implementation of the legislation, both in the UK and across Europe.