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Earlier this year the European Parliament adopted two key legislative measures regarding the resolution of consumer disputes in Europe. The new regulation mandates that all businesses selling goods or services to consumers online in any European Union member state, excluding those in the health and education sectors, make available a link to a EU-wide online platform that will be set up to handle consumer disputes.
The directive requires all EU member states to implement the Online Dispute Resolution initiative within 2 years of the regulation’s entry into force. The directive applies to any purchase made domestically or across EU borders.
The official press release can be seen below.
Brussels, 12 March 2013
A step forward for EU consumers: Commissioner Tonio Borg welcomes adoption of Out-of-court Dispute Resolution
Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, welcomed the vote of the European Parliament on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution (ADR-ODR) today. This vote confirms the agreement on the two proposals put forward by the European Commission in 2011.
Tonio Borg said: “Today, the European Parliament confirmed its agreement on two key proposals for boosting growth in the Single Market and strengthening the Digital economy. ADR and ODR are a win-win for consumers, who will be able to resolve their disputes out-of-court in a simple, fast and low-cost manner, and also for traders who will be able to keep good relations with customers and avoid litigation costs. It must be stressed that the EU institutions achieved a fast agreement which will significantly improve everyday life for consumers across Europe”.
He also added: “I want to take this opportunity to thank the rapporteurs of the two proposals at the European Parliament, Louis Grech and Róża Thun, for their commitment to reach an agreement. I am also grateful to the Member States and the Presidencies of the Council for their intensive work on these files. This is a truly inter-institutional achievement to boost consumers’ and traders’ confidence in the internal market and its digital dimension.”
The rules on ADR will ensure that consumers can turn to quality alternative dispute resolution entities for all kinds of contractual disputes that they have with traders; no matter what they purchased1 and whether they purchased it online or offline, domestically or across borders.
According to the ODR Regulation, an EU-wide online platform will be set up for handling consumer disputes that arise from online transactions. The platform will link all the national alternative dispute resolution entities and operate in all official EU languages.
Raising consumers’ awareness is another pillar of this legislation, as traders will need to provide consumers with adequate information on ADR and ODR.
Member States will have two years to implement the ADR/ODR rules. The ODR platform will be operational at the end of 2015.
For more information:
Everything you always wanted to know about eQuibbly – download it by clicking on this link or view it below:
For most of our day-to-day communication, we rely on the written word to replace much of the in-person and telephone conversations we relied on in the past. There’s no doubt there are instances where the intended meaning of what we write is misinterpreted by the person on the receiving end, which could have been avoided in person. But in certain situations, such where there are disputing Parties, there are many benefits to using the written word online.
How many times have you been in an argument or dispute with someone where simply looking at the person makes your blood boil? How often does your blood boil over when that person opens their mouth to speak? Anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell found that over 65 percent of communication is nonverbal.
Each gesture or movement can convey meaning and trigger different emotions in others. This is useful in most circumstances, but given a dispute between Parties who are at odds with one another, it can be destructive. Facial expressions, the roll of the eyes, crossing of arms, shrugging of shoulders, or inflection in someone’s voice can set off negative emotions that distort the substance of the message – reason and logic are lost to emotion.
The following are some of the benefits that Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has over traditional in-person dispute resolution:
- Online communication is often less emotional since negative verbal and visual communication is absent; it’s easier to focus on the facts and a reasoned resolution.
- People are less likely to be intimidated by the opposing Party when they’re not physically present due to the absence of visual and vocal tools of intimidation.
- It levels the playing field for those who are less skilled at expressing themselves verbally, suffer from stage fright, or who have speech impediments that cause them to be self-conscious. People also are less likely to be caught off guard or become flustered in the heat of the moment.
- It provides the Parties time to organize their thoughts and state their case in the clearest manner possible. There is time to consider what the other Party’s position is and to prepare a reasoned response.
- It eliminates the difficulties created by physical distance, other travel barriers, and scheduling conflicts.
- There’s a written record of what has been discussed making it difficult to deny what was said.
By Lance Soskin, Founder and President of eQuibbly.
eQuibbly is a web application created to help companies resolve their disputes quickly and fairly online. It’s known formally as Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Disputes are resolved entirely online either via mediation or arbitration in a secure private virtual room. Parties can opt for the outcome to be legally-binding and enforceable in court in almost any country.
If you have already experienced the great pleasure of going to court, especially for a full-blown trial, there’s no reason to read any further as you’re already well-aware that almost any other method of resolving a dispute or conflict is better than the traditional justice system.
Once you hire an attorney, it’s extremely difficult to get away with paying anything less than a few thousand dollars for pre-trial procedures, even if it is for small claims court. And if your case goes to trial, you’re almost certainly going to be out-of-pocket at least $10,000 and often times tens of thousands of dollars. If that isn’t reason enough to convince you to try an alternate route, the time commitment and aggravation involved in pursing litigation surely are.
One alternate route that is growing in popularity is online dispute resolution using arbitration or mediation.
If you meet one or more of the criteria below, it may be time for you to take a closer look at whether online arbitration or mediation may be right for you:
- Negotiation has failed. You have tried to resolve your dispute or complaint on the phone, by email, or face-to-face and were unable to reach a satisfactory solution.
- Meeting in-person is inconvenient. You and the opposing Party live far enough away from one another that there is no convenient place to meet without wasting a lot of time traveling.
- Cost of litigation may exceed your claim. Unless you are independently wealthy, there is little point suing if the cost of litigating might be more than the amount you recover at the end of the ordeal. Many plaintiffs over-estimate their chances of winning and the amount they will recover if they do win. If you’re looking for some sense of moral victory regardless of the cost, keep in mind the old saying about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’; it will likely ring true a year later when you’re still trying to make your way through the justice system on your last dime.
- Confidentiality is important. You would like to keep your disputes and your confidential information private. The courts in the U.S. and Canada are open to the public and almost everything you file with the court is public record and subject to public disclosure (other than personal information that can lead to identity fraud).
- You have shopped or socialized online. The online world is part of your everyday life. If you’re comfortable shopping, socializing, and commenting on news articles online, you’re technologically savvy enough to make use of online dispute resolution.
British Columbia passes law to Encourage use of Online Dispute Resolution instead of Small Claims Court17 Jul
The B.C. government is getting into the online dispute resolution business. It unveiled plans to take small civil claims and condominium disputes out of the courts and put them online.
“Both individuals and business owners will find this a convenient and affordable way of reaching agreements,” B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond said in a statement. “Few people want to go to court to solve a legal dispute, which can be costly, intimidating and time consuming. A tribunal offers an innovative alternative to settling a dispute in a faster, more amicable way.” The government is hoping to launch the ODR infrastructure in 2013 or 2014 as a way to cut legal fees and travel costs for parties as well as to reduce the backlog of cases in the courts.
With the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act, the B.C. Ministry of Justice is predicting a 60-day dispute resolution process, compared with the 12 to 18 months it can currently take for cases to wind their way through the province’s Small Claims Court. The tribunal will be available for disputes worth up to $25,000 where both parties agree to participate. However, it will be mandatory in certain types of property disputes involving condominiums.
The Act mandates that disputing parties are to represent themselves in the tribunal proceeding, however provision is made for legal representation in certain circumstances.
The tribunal will progress in four stages, with participants moving to the next stage only if they are unable to reach an agreement:
- Self-Help Dispute Resolution using online, interactive tools with information, tips and templates to help the parties reach a settlement;
- Supervised Negotiations Online;
- Direct Intervention by a Case Manager to Facilitate Settlement; and
- Online Tribunal Hearing where a final decision is made – the order can be filed with the court giving it the same force and effect as if it were a judgment of that court.