Resolving consumer disputes—the changing landscape of ADR

Resolving consumer disputes—the changing landscape of ADR

What has been the impact of the increased role for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in consumer disputes?

Kerry Gwyther, commercial partner at TLT Solicitors, considers the regulatory changes designed to encourage the use of ADR and their effect on businesses and consumers.

Businesses and their advisers should be aware in particular of the requirement to provide consumers with certain information relating to ADR from 1 October 2015.

Check out the full interview below:

What process do consumers and businesses need to follow and what, in particular, do businesses need to be aware of?

Consumer rights law within the EU is undergoing reform. As part of this, retailers now have new obligations regarding their commitment to alternative dispute resolution.

These changes were brought about by the:

  • European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution, Directive 2013/11/EU (the ADR Directive), and
  • European Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution for commercial disputes, Regulation (EU) 524/2013 (the ODR Regulation).

They will affect nearly all businesses selling goods and services or digital content to consumers within the UK.

The regulatory changes do not make it mandatory for traders to participate in ADR. But, they do mean that, from 1 October 2015, most businesses offering goods and services directly to customers will need to provide consumers with certain information relating to ADR.

Businesses will be required to direct consumers to certified ADR providers where disputes cannot be resolved in-house and provide confirmation of whether they intend to use that ADR provider as a means of resolving the dispute.

Online traders will be required to provide this information on their websites.

From January 2016, businesses selling goods online will also be required to provide a link on their website to the EU Commission's online dispute resolution platform.

What is the government and industry doing to promote ADR?

The reforms are aimed at making ADR more readily available to consumers. The government hopes that greater access to an effective ADR system, where matters cannot be resolved by businesses internally, will increase consumer confidence and encourage them to engage with retailers they have not purchased from before.

Under the new regulations, certified ADR providers were made accessible to all businesses selling goods and services to consumers within each se

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