Alternative dispute settlement of consumer disputes

The alternative dispute resolution (‘ADR’) helps consumers resolving their disputes about goods or services purchased with a professional, without judicial procedure, but through the intervention of an ADR entity that proposes or imposes a solution, or brings the parties together to facilitate an amicable solution.
On 18 June 2013, the ADRC Directive (2013/11/UE) and ODR Regulation ((EU) No 524/2013) were published. They form a new regulatory framework for alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes.
The ADRC Directive aims to promote the use of ADR and imposes a minimum level of consumer protection. It applies to disputes between consumers and professionals residing in the Union regarding contractual obligations arising out of contracts of sale or service, both online and offline. The professional and the consumer must agree on the ADR. The parties are therefore never obliged to use ADR procedures.
The ODR Regulation sets up a platform of «Online Dispute Settlement ‘ ODR as an interactive website. The platform also sends complaints to the national ADR entity to treat the complaint. In practice, e-merchants and online marketplaces (e.g. Amazon, Ebay …) will include easily accessible links to the platform ‘Online Dispute Settlement’ on their site, no matter if they accept or not to submit their disputes to the ADR. Those who are committed to use them or are required to do so, must also inform the consumer in more details (including the terms and conditions) about the existence and possibility of using the ADR.
Belgium must comply with the ADRC Directive for 9 July 2015. The ODR Regulation is directly applicable and, except for certain provisions, from 9 January 2016.
For more information, please contact Guillaume RUE,