Platform for online dispute resolution (ODR platform) – an interactive website developed by the European Commission that offers a single point of access for consumers and traders who want to reach an out-of court resolution of such disputes that are related to online sales and / or service contracts.
On January 9, 2016, a platform for dispute resolution online was started.
A platform for online dispute resolution (ODR platform) – an interactive website developed by the European Commission that offers a single point of access for consumers and traders who want to reach an out-of court resolution of such disputes that are related to online sales and / or service contracts.
The platform offers a single access point to 3 parties: a consumer, a trader and an alternative dispute resolution entity (ADR).
|Consumer: place of residence in EU
|A contact point for online dispute resolution (ODR):Established in every Member StateFacilitates communication between the parties and an ADR entity
|Trader: carries out business activities in EU
|Alternative dispute resolution entity (ADR): registered in the platform
In the platform the ADR entities are registered that are included in the list according with the Directive on consumer ADR and that are competent to solve disputes to which the Regulation on consumer ODR is applied. (Regulation on consumer ODR, Article 5(6))
Additionally, in the platform the ODR contact points are also available the main purpose of which is to provide the parties with assistance thereby facilitating examining disputes in the platform.
In case of questions or uncertainties the parties on any stage of the procedure may contact ODR contact points that are established in each Member State.
ODR contact points provide assistance:
- assisting with the submission of the complaint ;
- providing the parties and ADR entities with general information on consumer rights in relation to sales and service contracts which apply in the Member State of the ODR contact point which hosts the ODR;
- providing information on the functioning of the platform;
- providing the parties with explanations on the procedural rules applied by the ADR entities identified
- informing the complainant party of other means of redress when a dispute cannot be resolved through the ODR platform.
Laws and regulations
Development of ODR platform is based on 2 normative acts that are interrelated and mutually supporting instruments:
- DIRECTIVE OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL 2013/11/EU (May 21, 2013) on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC)No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Directive on consumer ADR);
- REGULATION OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL (EU) No 524/2013 (May 21, 2013) on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR).
According to Directive on consumer ADR the Member States must ensure availability of alternative dispute resolution entities in the Member States whereas according to Regulation on consumer ODR a platform has been developed that provides a trader and a consumer with access to the competent dispute resolution entities.
Disputes that may be submitted through the platform
Disputes regarding contractual commitments that result from the online sales and service contracts if:
- The consumer’s place of residence is in EU;
- The trader carries its economic activity in EU;
- A registered in the platform ADR entity is involved in the dispute.
A trader may file a complaint against a consumer, in so far as the legislation of the Member State where the consumer is habitually resident allows for such disputes to be resolved through the intervention of an ADR entity. (Regulation on consumer ODR, Article 2(2))
An ‘online sales or service contract’ means a sales or service contract where the trader, or the trader’s intermediary, has offered goods or services on a website or by other electronic means and the consumer has ordered such goods or services on that website or by other electronic means. (Regulation on consumer ODR, Article 4(1)e)
Process of dispute examination in the platform
The process of dispute examination in the platform may be divided in 4 stages:
- Submission of a complaint in the platform
- Agreeing over a ADR entity
- Examination of a complaint in the ADR entity
- Solution and closure
Source: European Commission Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers (DG JUST)
1. Submission of a complaint in the platform
A consumer fills in a complaint form in the platform (the main information to be provided):
- The name, e-mail and geographical address of the consumer;
- The name, e-mail, website and geographical address of the trader;
- Complaint description;
- The ADR entity that the trader is obliged or has undertaken to employ.
A complaint may be submitted in all the official EU languages. For communication between the parties an automatic translation tool is available on the platform in order to translate the information that is received from a trader / a consumer / an ADR entity.
2. Agreement upon the ADR entity
Once the consumer has submitted a complaint, the trader receives an automatic notice on its e-mail with an electronic link to the platform. In order to view the complaint the trader needs to make a user account. The trader may approve or reject further examination of the complaint on the platform.
Invitation to agree upon an ADR entity within 10 calendar days:
- Proposes an ADR entity.
- Rejects further examination of the complaint.
- A response is not provided within 10 days.
Once the trader has approved further examination on the platform, the consumer is sent a notice with information regarding the proposed by the trader ADR entity.
The platform immediately notifies the consumer regarding such information:
- Information on the ADR entity indicated by the trader.
- Invitation to agree upon the ADR entity within 10 calendar days:
- Agrees upon the proposed by the trader ADR entity;
- Disagrees upon the proposed by the trader ADR entity.
Where the parties fail to agree within 30 calendar days after submission of the complaint form on an ADR entity the complaint shall not be processed further. (Regulation on consumer ODR, Article 9(8))
3. Examination of a complaint in an ADR entity
The platform automatically sends the complaint that ADR entity the parties have agreed upon.
The ADR entity informs whether it agrees or refuses to examine the complaint:
- If agrees: it informs the parties on the conditions and costs of the procedure.
- If refuses: the complaint is considered to be closed.
ADR entities to which a complaint has been transmitted through the ODR platform should therefore apply their own procedural rules, including rules on costs (Regulation on consumer ODR, preamble (22)).
The outcome of the ADR procedure is made available within a period of 90 calendar days from the date on which the ADR entity has received the complete complaint file. (Directive on consumer ADR, Article 8(e))
4. Solution & closing a complaint
Once the ADR entity has completed examination of a complaint, the parties are notified on the dispute solution.
The solution of the ADR entity depends on the applied alternative dispute resolution procedure:
- Suggests settlement;
- Determines settlement;
- Brings the dispute parties together to seek for conciliation.
The translation of the decision taken by the ADR entity into the official language of the consumer’s state the consumer is entitled to request through the platform that is ensured by a professional translator.
Obligation to inform
Traders established within the Union engaging in online sales or service contracts, and online marketplaces established within the Union, shall provide on their websites (Regulation on consumer ADR, Article 14(1)):
- an electronic link to the ODR platform (also online trade sites);
- an e-mail address.
Traders which are committed or obliged to use one or more ADR entities to resolve disputes with consumers, shall provide on their websites (Regulation on consumer ODR ODR, Article 14(2)):
- shall inform consumers about the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using the ODR platform for resolving their disputes.