Online platform for resolution of consumer disputes

The European Commission’s Online Dispute Resolution website for consumer cases, known as the ODR Platform, was launched on 15 February 2016 at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr.

The legal basis for creation and operation of the ODR Platform is the EU’s Consumer ODR Regulation (524/2013), which entered into force in January of this year.

This regulation imposes certain informational obligations on enterprises based in the European Union entering into online sales contracts or service contracts with consumers. The scope of these obligations depends on whether or not the enterprise has committed to use one or more ADR entities for out-of-court resolution of disputes with consumers.

Traders concluding online contracts (for sales or services) which have committed to using an ADR entity or entities are required to inform consumers of the existence of the ODR Platform and the possibility of using it to resolve their disputes, providing a link to the platform on the trader’s website, or if the offer is made via email, to include a link in the message.

Meanwhile, all traders engaging in online sales or service contracts—including traders which have not committed to using an ADR entity or entities—are required to include an easily accessible electronic link to the ODR Platform on their websites, and are also required to provide their own email addresses.