Brexit: UK unwinds implementation of EU ADR laws

Jan O’Neill
Professional Support Lawyer, London

 

The UK Government has published legislation to effectively revoke the implementation of the EU Mediation Directive (2008/52/EC) after Brexit.

The Cross-Border Mediation (EU Directive) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (the Regulations) were made on 1 March 2019 and will come into effect on exit day, whenever that occurs.

Why?

The development is part of a wider policy decision by the Government to revoke/repeal UK domestic legislation that implemented EU law in instances where that law is based on reciprocity between EU Member States. Continue reading

The EU Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform – an update on timing

It has been confirmed that online businesses will have an extended timeframe in which to comply with new obligations to signpost customers to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform being set up by the EU Commission.

As we have previously reported, the EU ODR Regulation which came into force last year (and was implemented in the UK as part of new ADR Regulations) includes a requirement that, from 9 January 2016, all businesses selling goods or services online within the EU carry a link on their website (and in some cases in their contractual terms) to the ODR Platform. While businesses have been preparing to comply with the obligation by 9 January, the missing piece of information to enable them to do so has been the ODR Platform website address, which has not yet been released by the EU Commission.

The UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has now confirmed that it has been advised by the EU Commission that the 'go live' date for the ODR Platform has been delayed to 15 February 2016.  Businesses will therefore now not be required to carry a link to the ODR Platform until it is launched on this new date.  BIS has confirmed:

'We can reassure you that although the date of 9 January remains in our Regulations, we fully understand that it will not be possible for businesses to meet this date as the ODR platform will not yet be launched. There will of course be no question of enforcement action before 15 February".

We will continue to monitor and report when the link to the ODR Platform becomes available. The EU Commission's most recent factsheet can be accessed here.

UPDATE 1.2.16:  The EU Commission has now announced the website address for the ODR Platform, which will be operational from 15 February:  http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/

 

New ADR consumer information obligations apply from today

From today, almost all UK businesses selling goods or services to consumers in the EU need to comply with new requirements to provide consumers with information about ADR options, under legislation implementing the new EU ADR Directive.

The new rules include obligations (in respect of complaints handling procedures) that apply to all traders regardless of whether they are committed to using ADR or intend to use it.

Click here for details on what businesses need to do to comply with the new obligations.

 

ADR for consumer disputes: New obligations on UK traders from 1 October 2015

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 ADR to resolve consumer disputes across the EU.  (See our previous posts for details of the EU legislation and the UK’s implementation plans).

Alongside provisions aimed at improving the UK infrastructure for ADR in consumer disputes, the legislative package also extends 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. Continue reading

UK Government announces plans for implementation of the EU ADR Directive and ODR Regulation

The UK Government has announced its plans for implementing the ADR Directive and the ODR Regulation, both of which are aimed at promoting the use of ADR schemes in disputes involving consumer complaints throughout the EU.

While the Government is not at this stage pressing forward with a suggested proposal to restructure the entire UK landscape for consumer ADR, the plans include:

  • the creation of a new ‘residual’ ADR scheme to fill the current gaps in the existing consumer ADR landscape;
  • the appointment of the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) as the UK’s competent authority to monitor ADR providers in the non-regulated sectors;
  • an 8 week extension to the standard 6 year limitation period for bringing court proceedings (in disputes covered by the Directive) in cases where ADR is ongoing at the expiry of the 6 year period; and
  • new statutory obligations on businesses to provide information to consumers regarding the availability of ADR schemes.

Businesses engaged in selling to consumers in the EU will need to familiarise themselves with the new consumer information obligations and ensure that they take steps to comply, including by amending contractual terms and website information where necessary. Continue reading

EU: ADR Directive and ODR Regulation to enter into force

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.

 

Improving consumer protection on a European level

Consumer rights have received further support with the announcement that the UK will adopt the proposed Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR Directive) and a Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR Regulation). Anita Phillips, a professional support lawyer in our London office,  looks at the role the legal profession will have to play in ensuring its success. This article was first published on Lexis Library/Lexis PSL on 10 May 2013. Continue reading