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Online Dispute Resolution

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The Digital Single Market is growing. More consumers are shopping online, purchasing goods domestically and from other Member States. But this also increases the potential for misunderstanding and disagreement. Connecting Europe’s Online Dispute Resolution service ensures that both sides are satisfied with these transactions, and they have somewhere to turn when things don’t go according to plan.

What is the Online Dispute Resolution service?

Online Dispute Resolution is an online platform that allows EU consumers and traders to solve disputes for online purchases in a simple, fast and affordable way. This keeps the dispute from having to be settled in court, which is beneficial for consumers, traders and more cost-effective for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies across Member States.

What are the benefits?

  • Consumers have a faster, cheaper way to resolve disputes online, giving them the confidence to choose the best deals from across the EU – which has the potential to save consumers 11.7 billion each year.

  • Traders have a cheap, secure and effective way to resolve online disputes, gaining the confidence to sell their goods across Europe.

  • ADR bodies can now deal with disputes across Europe more efficiently.

How do the Building Blocks fit in?

Why was the project set up?

Primarily, the project was set up to protect consumers. The project builds on EU regulation that ensures consumers have access to Alternative Dispute Resolution when there’s a disagreement with traders. The Online Dispute Resolution service was developed because the regulation included an online portal.

Who is the Online Dispute Resolution service for?

Consumers: European citizens or businesses buying goods or services online in Europe – domestically or cross-border.  Online Dispute Resolution helps them resolve issues with any purchase, without the effort and expense of going to court.

Online traders: European businesses selling goods or services online. The Online Dispute Resolution service helps traders who have had a sale disputed by a customer and would also like to avoid going to court.

ADR entities: Organisations offering out-of-court settlement procedures. Online disputes registered on the platform are channelled through ADR bodies. Every ADR connected to the Online Dispute Resolution service platform has been checked to ensure they meet the quality standards laid out by the European Commission.


How was it implemented?

The Online Dispute Resolution service platform was designed and developed by the European Commission, DG SANTE and is now supported by DG JUST. The team was tasked with developing an online Online Dispute Resolution service platform that is user-friendly, multilingual and accessible.

To make sure the project was going to meet the needs of consumers, traders and ADR entities, the project team consulted a group of ADR/Online Dispute Resolution service experts. This ensured that the Online Dispute Resolution service platform had the right functionality and features to be effective.

As a result, the team identified three pieces of functionality as key to the success of the service:

  1. Verifying the identity of consumers

  2. Translating legal documents sent to ADR bodies

  3. Securely sending documents sent by consumers, traders and ADR bodies

Three of the Connecting Europe Building Blocks were chosen to build that functionality, saving time, money and making the platform more efficient.

  • By using eID, the project saved time and costs that would have otherwise been invested in the development and maintenance of a separate login system.

  • The use of eTranslation allows the platform’s end users gain more freedom and confidence when handling the dispute on-line. It also reduces reliance on human translators, and thus increases the speed and volume of translation and reduces costs;

  • The eDelivery network is easily scalable, allowing Online Dispute Resolution service to add an increasing number of eDelivery access points as more and more ADR entities connect to the platform.

Finally, as a consumer protection tool, the Online Dispute Resolution service had to be known to consumers before it would be trusted as a way to resolve online disputes. The deployment of the service was supported by a communications campaign to encourage uptake.

"It simply made sense, they fulfilled the requirements of the project and contributed to the successful launch of the platform."

Xenios Xenophontos, Policy Officer, DG Justice and Consumer”

What are the results?

Consumers now have a faster, cheaper way to resolve disputes online. They can do this in the language of their choosing, and with the confidence that the information they share will be secure. Since the platform launched, thousands of customers across Europe have logged disputes.

Long term, the Online Dispute Resolution service will give consumers the confidence to shop internationally and seek out the best deals from across the EU – it is believed this could save EU consumers EUR 11.7 billion each year.

Traders get a cheap, secure and effective way to resolve online disputes, and have more confidence to sell their goods and services to new markets in other European countries.

At the same time, increased consumer confidence in cross-border trade, leads to more consumers seeking out good and services in across the internal market. This increases the volume of potential customers available to them – meaning more potential revenue.

ADR entities are now able to deal with disputes coming from across Europe more efficiently, with hundreds of resolution bodies now connected to the service.  

The platform allows ADR clerks to deal with cross-border disputes much more efficiently delivering a better service to traders and consumers.

Last updated on  Apr 25, 2019 09:17
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