A year ago in February 2016, the European Commission launched an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. The ODR platform’s purpose is to resolve disputes between consumers and businesses arising from a good or service purchased online within the EU. It works cross-border, is faster, simpler and more cost efficient than going to court, offering benefits to both parties. Since its launch, more than 24,000 consumers have used the ODR. The largest portion of disputes involves the purchase of clothing, airline tickets and ICT goods.
The Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (2013/11/EU) and the Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (2013/524/EU) serve as the legal framework for the ODR. Companies selling consumer products or services online must inform consumers of the availability of the ODR platform and its use in resolving disputes. This information shall be provided on the companies’ websites alongside a link to the ODR platform.
Member States have established national lists of certified alternative dispute resolution bodies.
Finland has listed three dispute resolution bodies:
- The Financial Ombudsman Bureau
- The Consumer Disputes Board
- The Traffic Accidents Claims Board
Sweden has listed six dispute resolution bodies:
- The National Board for Consumer Disputes
- The Board for Legal Protection Insurance Issues
- The Board for Insurance of Persons
- The Swedish Bar Association’s Consumer Disputes Board
- The Sweden’s Funeral Directors Association Complaints Board
- The Road Traffic Injuries Commission
The ODR platform has been very moderately used in Finland and Sweden with only some 300 complaints. This year, the Commission will promote the ODR platform with consumers and further monitor whether online sales companies comply with their obligation to inform consumers and their obligation to provide a link to the ODR platform on their website.