New Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform launched by the European Commission

In Ireland, the EU (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015 (the “Irish ODR Regulations”) give effect to EU Regulation No. 524/2013 (the “EU ODR Regulations”).   

New ODR platform

The new EU-wide ODR platform launched by the European Commission allows consumers and traders to settle their online disputes out of court in a simple, fast and low-cost way.

New requirements

The new requirements as set out in the Irish ODR Regulations applied from 9 January 2016 and since 15 February 2016 the ODR platform has been fully open for use by consumers and traders.

Summary of the new requirements

  • Traders established within the EU engaging in online sales or service contracts, are obliged to provide on their websites an electronic link to the ODR platform, which must be easily accessible for consumers.

  • Traders established within the EU engaging in online sales or service contracts must also state their email addresses.

  • Traders established within the EU engaging in online sales or service contracts, which are committed or obliged to use one or more ADR entities to resolve disputes with consumers must inform consumers about the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using the ODR platform for resolving their disputes. They must provide an electronic link to the ODR platform on their websites and, if the offer is made by e-mail, in that e-mail. The information must also be provided, where applicable, in the general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.

Implications for traders who do not comply

A trader who contravenes the new requirements will be committing an offence and under Irish law will be liable on summary conviction to a class A fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to both. 

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In 2015 the EU Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes was transposed into Irish law by the EU (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 343 of 2015) (the “Irish ADR Regulations”).

A trader that has committed or is obliged to use an ADR entity to resolve disputes with consumers must inform a consumer of the ADR entity or entities which cover that trader’s sector including the website address of the relevant ADR entities. (Regulation 18 of the EU (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 343 of 2015)).

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission maintains a public list of “ADR entities” in the State.

Conclusion:

Businesses should review the Regulations and ensure that their commercial agreements and websites are up-to-date.

For further information on the above topic please contact Olga Gaffney