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Consumers (17-01-2011)

Cheaper, faster, easier ways to settle disputes without going to court

Today, the European Commission launched a public web-based consultation on alternative dispute resolution schemes (ADR) for consumers. The Commission's aim is to increase consumer confidence in shopping in the Single Market by ensuring easier, faster and cheaper out-of-court (non-judicial) resolution of disputes between a consumer and a trader. The Commission aims at ensuring that more ADR schemes are available and used, and at alleviating the burden on the judicial systems of Member States.

Currently, there are at least 750 ADR schemes in the EU, but consumers cannot always get the help they need.

There are three main problems:

  • not all sectors of the market or regions of the EU are covered;
  • both retailers' and consumers' awareness of ADR remain low;
  • retailers are unwilling to engage in the process.

Losses incurred by EU consumers who had problems constitute around 0.3% of Europe's GDP. Of consumers who complain to a trader and who are not satisfied with the way their complaint is dealt with, 51% take no further action. They are even more reluctant to act in cross-border situations. The results of this consultation, open until 15/3/2011, will be used to shape the Commission's legislative proposal scheduled for November 2011.

For more information on ADR and other forms of redress in Member States: