On 25 September, the European Commission released a first report on the implementation of the European framework for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). The report highlights what both instruments permits including allowing the out of court dispute settlements between consumers and traders to settle their disputes through 460 Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies over a purchase. The Commission have aligned this report with their priority in the its endeavours to strengthen the consumer ADR/ODR framework.
The report was drafted in accordance with Article 26 of the ADR Directive and Article 21(2) of the ODR Regulation, assessing the application if the legal framework for consumer ADR and ODR established under the two legal instruments based on various sources of information.
The report begins with an overview to the EU legislative framework for consumer ADR and ODR. The report recalls that the Directive 2013/11/EU and Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 aim to alleviate the burden on courts as regards low-value disputes by providing legislative framework that ensures that consumers have access to high-quality ADR procedures for settling their contractual disputes with traders, including via a multilingual web-based ODR platform.
The Directive 2013/11/EU
The report highlights the concerns around the new ADR framework still being unused and listed three main challenges that limit its full effectiveness.
The report discusses the level of awareness among both consumers and retailers which, although increased, is still insufficient in some regions and retail sectors. Among both consumers and traders there are misconceptions about ADR and ODR procedures. For example, consumers sometimes confuse ADR with the trader’s customer care service or perceive them as in favour of the trader.
The report also pointed out that the diversity of ADR national landscapes makes it difficult for consumers and traders to navigate.
Finally, the report provides a detailed assessment of traders’ participation in ADR procedures, stating there are currently only three retailers willing to use ADR.
The report recommends measures to improve the navigability of national ADR landscapes and to enhance trader participation in ADR and compliance with its outcomes.
The Regulation (EU) No 524/2013
The ODR platform was introduced in 2016 and in 2017 it has become accessible for consumer disputes involving consumers and traders from the EEA countries. The platform has attracted more than 8.5 million visitors and 120,000 consumer complaints since its launch. It successfully settled 42% of cases. However, the report also acknowledged that more work still needs to be done for the ODR platform to fully deliver on its objectives.
Finally, the Commission will work on continually improving the ODR platform by providing more targeted information on consumer rights, while helping users find the most appropriate redress tools and facilitate direct settlements.