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Monday March 07, 2016

Ease of Use is Aim of EU's ODR Platform

The European Commission's new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform is a user-friendly system to settle disagreements about goods and services bought online via alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies. It can be used for disputes arising from both domestic and cross-border online purchases. All companies who sell products online in the EU are required to inform customers about the availability of the platform, launched in February (PSL, 2/22/16).


ADR is often a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes. The aim of the ODR platform is to reduce the difficulties faced by consumers when complaining about goods or services purchased online by providing a simpler means of redress without having to resort to court proceedings.


The ODR platform is now available for consumers and traders to submit complaints using a simple online form. Once the parties have agreed on an ADR provider to handle the dispute, the ODR platform then transmits the complaint to the provider for resolution. The entire dispute resolution process is conducted online using the platform.


Companies selling products online now must provide an easily accessible electronic link to the platform on websites and in emails. Guidance suggests that a logical place on the website for the link would be alongside information about the company's complaints procedure. If a company is obliged to use ADR (for example, as part of a trade association) it must also provide certain information relating to the use of ADR in resolving disputes.


The ODR platform is part of the EU's wider Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy.


It remains to be seen how consumers and traders will make use of the ODR platform. However, the Commission is hopeful that it will have economic benefits by giving consumers more confidence in buying products online, particularly from companies based in other Member States, as it will be easier to resolve a dispute should something go wrong. Additionally, traders will benefit from a new simple way to resolve disputes which can help to maintain their reputation across the EU.


Dispatch from the EU is a monthly feature provided exclusively for PSL subscribers by Hogan Lovells International LLP, For further information about the above, contact Rod Freeman at