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Seeking redress for unsatisfactory goods or services can often prove difficult for consumers and the position can be made more complicated if the relevant goods or services were purchased online or in a different EU country.
As related court procedures can often prove lengthy and costly, new legislation published in the Official Journal on 18 June 2013 aims to provide a fast, cheap and informal way for consumers to settle disputes with traders out of court.
Directive 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution (the ADR Directive) seeks to encourage the use of approved ADR entities that ensure minimum quality standards in relation to domestic and cross-border disputes between traders established in the EU and consumers resident in the EU. Such ADR entities shall propose or impose a solution or facilitate an amicable solution by bringing the parties together.
The ADR Directive will be supplemented by Regulation (EU) 524/2013 on online dispute resolution (the ODR Regulation). The ODR Regulation will enable the European Commission to establish a new online “ODR platform” – a free, interactive website through which both traders and consumers can initiate ADR in relation to disputes concerning online transactions.
Member states must bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the ADR Directive by 9 July 2015 at the latest. The ODR Regulation, which is binding on Member States directly, will take effect from 9 January 2016 in respect of the bulk of the provisions.
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