European Parliament endorses new EU rules to provide consumers with a faster and easier dispute resolution

The European Parliament has approved new EU legislation that will allow European consumers to access faster and cheaper ways to solve their disputes concerning the goods and services traded within the single market. These new rules aim to avoid customers the need to engage in long and costly legal procedures which are particularly cumbersome in cross-border or on-line shopping.

Thanks to the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Directive consumers will be able to seek out of court actions for any claim concerning a good or service no matter if it was purchased through the Internet, in an shop, in the same country or in another EU member state. MEPs placed particular emphasis on ensuring that these procedures do not involve a cost to the consumer or, in any event, that the cost of using the alternative redress ways remains symbolic.

While in some members states there were already some alternative ways for conflict consumer conflict solution, there were no common standards and were in many cases overloaded, making it too complicated for consumers to use them. The European Commission proposed these new rules about alternative ways of dispute resolution for consumers in 2011 in order to ensure a common set of standards within the single market and to improve consumer protection. The new directive requires members states to ensure the existence of a body for alternative dispute resolution in all sectors as well as to ensure the impartiality of the mediators.

Regarding on-line shopping, the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) regulation provides that the European Commission will make available to consumers an on-line platform for on-line dispute resolution in all EU languages. Consumers will have access to this platform through the "Your Europe" portal that will provide a standard user-friendly form that will allow consumers to fill the complaint in their own language. The platform will indicate the most appropriate way for dispute resolution and will allow to handle every step of the process ensuring privacy and the protection of personal data.