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ADR & ODR- The new way of solving disputes…

ADR or ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ is the means of resolving a dispute, whereby an independent third party considers the evidence and makes a decision or helps the parties come to an agreement, without having to go to court. The aim is to maintain good customer relations and avoid deadlocks and reputational damage. If you are a trader selling goods, services or digital content to consumers, you must provide certain information about ADR. In a nutshell:
  • If you are unable to resolve a consumer’s complaint with them directly using your internal complaints procedure, you must inform the consumer on a durable medium (e.g. email):Consumer Rights image
    • that you cannot settle the complaint; and
    • provide the name and website address of a certified ADR provider; and
    • whether you are prepared to make use of that provider. Note that use of a certified ADR provider is not mandatory, but you must still provide the information.
  • Check whether you are obliged by law or your trade association rules to use a certified ADR provider e.g. is your business within financial services, energy and communications? In these cases,  you must provide the name and website address of the ADR provider in your general terms and and on your website (if you have one).

Linked to the new ADR Regulations, from 15 February, online traders must provide consumers with information regarding a new online dispute resolution (“ODR”) platform. The ODR platform has been specifically designed to help consumers who have bought goods or services online, domestically or across EU borders, and subsequently have a problem with that online purchase. It will allow consumers to submit their contractual dispute and conduct an ADR procedure online in any of the 23 official languages of the EU.

SO, if you are an online trader, YOU MUST:

  • provide a link to the ODR platform on your website; and
  • if you are obliged by law or your trade association rules to use a certified ADR provider, you must include information about the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using it for resolving disputes in your online contracts and include a link to the ODR platform in any offer made to a consumer by email.

And here is the link! http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/

HOT TIP: For the list of ADR entities approved under the Consumer ADR Regulations, see Trading Standard Institute: ADR Approved Bodies.
REMEMBER:You need to make sure your complaints-handling process reflects the new rules! Call us if you need help 🙂

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