EC launches Online Dispute Resolution platform

The European Commission has launched an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform for alternative dispute resolution bodies as part of its Digital Single Market strategy.

The ODR platform is designed to help online traders and customers settle their disputes. These can be for domestic or cross border purchases and should help avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings that may be in another language and legal system.

A statement from the EC said that “This online platform will strengthen trust in online purchases and thereby make an important contribution to the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy. When consumers and traders lodge a complaint, the dispute resolution bodies will act as a referee between the two parties to resolve the issue.”

Alternative dispute resolution bodies can now sign up and familiarise themselves with it before it is opened for use by customers and traders on the 15 February this year. European online traders must then provide a link to their ODR platform on their websites under new regulations.

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “One in three consumers expe­rienced a problem when buying online in the past year. But a quarter of these consumers did not complain – mainly because they thought the proce­dure was too long or they were unlikely to get a solution. The new online platform will save time and money for consumers and traders. I am confident the platform will be widely used to solve consumer grievances”.

The EC has taken an interest in making cross border e-commerce much easier for residents of its member countries. With many online traders finding themselves exporting very soon after starting their businesses, the EC is looking at a number of ways to enable small scale trade to flourish between member states and hopefully foster trade within the economic and political bloc.