Online dispute resolution : the european Union’s plaform in brief
On December 1st 2017, the European Commission released a final report on the first year of functionning of its ODR (online dispute resolution) platform.
As a reminder, the directive on consumer ADR (aternative dispute resolution) and the regulation on ODR of 21 May 2013, currently into force, are part of the EU’s legislation, and relate to B2C commerce rules within the single market.
The regulation, practital on the field of the european single market, but also in any member States’ domestic markets, introduced – among other things – the obligation for traders to clearly mention the link of the ODR platform on their websites.
As for the platform is concern, it has been developed and operated by the EU Commission, and is actually a portal that enables complaining consumers/traders (e.g. if the consumer receives a broken item) to appeal ADR entities to resolve their dispute.
An ADR entity is a non-judicial entity that has to be compliant with several principles listed by the directive (among them : independance, impartiality, transparency, effectiveness, fairness).
By protecting the european citizens and giving them the ability to solve disputes out of court, the european Union is aiming to encourage trade within the single market.
Indeed, trust in online purchases is a key factor of e-commerce. Thus, the opportunity given with this platform to avoid cost/time-consuming court procedures may enhance e-commerce in Europe, and stimulate economic growth.
source : report from the commission to the european Parliament and the Council of 12/13/2017
Quick overwiew of the platform’s success
According to the report, the « current statistics show a steady increase in unique visitors from February 2017 – August 2017 to over 180,000 per month, with over 2,300 complaints being filled per month. »
These figures are quite encouraging. Nevertheless, the next observation shows us there are still a lot of efforts to be made.
A disappointing compliance of EU traders
source : « online dispute resolution : webscraping of EU traders’ websites » final report of 12/01/2017
Whether deliberately (what can be discussed on reputational aspects) or due to an unawareness of the EU legislation, it should be noted that most of the traders aren’t compliant with the regulation (average rate of 28%). For the european Commission, it is a big loss for the promotion of the platform.
With that being said, we can notice that Germany is leading the ladder, what is not surprising considering the strong and customer-centric tradition of the State in e-commerce (most of online businesses in Germany allow consumers to withdraw in a long period).
We may think there is a strong correlation between the availability of the link on traders’ websites and the amount of complaints, as Germany and Austria register the most important number of complaints from consumers (respectively 265 and 167).
But this isn’t the only reason of the use of the platform. The specificity of each member State can explain the interest for out-of-court procedures. The United Kingdom, with only 14% of availibility of the link records 152 consumers’ complaints. This is probably due to the slowness and the cost of court procedures in UK.
The Platform : https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/main/?event=main.home.show
Directive 2013/11/EU : http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32013L0011
Regulation 524/2013 : http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32013R0524
The report of 12/01/2017 : « Online dispute resolution : webscraping of EU traders’websites » final report