Alternative and online dispute resolution at a glance, and how they can provide a good avenue for justice.

On 21 May 2013 the European Commission adopted a Directive on consumer Alternative Dispute Resolution and a Regulation on consumer Online Dispute Resolution. The deadline for the implementation of the Directive into national law was 9 July 2015. The Regulation, while in force from 7 July 2013, will come into force on 9 January 2016 apart from certain provisions which came into force on 8 July 2013 and 9 July 2015.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a method of settling disputes between consumers and traders without having to go through the cost, processes and uncertainties of court proceedings. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a similar dispute resolution service but the procedure is carried out online.

The objective of the implemented Directive is not the harmonisation of different ADR schemes or the creation of one uniform scheme. Rather, it is aimed at achieving a high level of consumer protection by ensuring that disputes can be submitted to ADR entities who will offer impartial, transparent, effective and fair alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Directive contains different quality requirements for the ADR entities and the obligation for traders to disclose information to consumers.

The Regulation on consumer ODR will set up an online platform which will include all the ADR entities in the different Member States and have one contact point for each Member State. The platform is to be easily accessible for all EU citizens and will be available in all 24 official EU languages. The online platform is due to be launched and operational by 9 January 2016.