What has been proposed?
The Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) will ensure that quality out-of-court entities exist to deal with any contractual dispute between a consumer and a business. Under the proposal:
• ADR entities will have to meet certain quality criteria, ie be well-qualified impartial, transparent, effective and fair;
• businesses will inform customers about the ADR entity which can deal with a potential contractual dispute with them;
• ADR entities will resolve the disputes within 90 days.
The Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution will create a EU-wide online platform providing consumers and businesses with a single point of entry for resolving disputes concerning purchases made on-line in another EU country. This single European point of entry will:
• automatically send the consumer’s complaint to the competent national ADR entity;
• facilitate the resolution of the dispute within 30 days.
What is in it for consumers and businesses?
• Consumers will have access to an effective and inexpensive way of solving their disputes with traders, regardless of the goods or services purchased, or how (online or offline) or from where in the EU (ie at home or abroad).
• Consumers buying on-line from other EU countries will be able to solve their contractual disputes with EU traders entirely online.
• Consumer savings are estimated at about 0.2% of the EU’s GDP (€22.5 billion).
• For businesses, access to alternative dispute resolution will be key to managing customer relations and enhancing corporate image, and also to save the costs of litigation.
• Consumers and traders across Europe will have the assurance that all European out of court entities called to resolve their disputes will meet the same criteria. They will be transparent, well-qualified, impartial, effective and fair.
• Increased confidence will encourage consumers to be more active in searching for good offers and best prices across the EU single market, therefore driving competition and economic growth.
The European Parliament and the EU Council have committed to adopting the package by the end of 2012 as a priority action in the Single Market Act (see IP/11/469).
The package also completes one of the actions of the Digital Agenda for Europe. After the adoption, EU Member States will have 18 months to implement the ADR Directive. This means that quality out-of-court ADRs should be available everywhere in the EU in the second half of 2014.
The single EU-wide platform for online dispute resolution will become fully operational six months after that deadline (ie early in 2015), as its operation requires the setting up and upgrading of out-of-court entities where needed.