Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform for Electronic Commerce

Our E-Arbitration-T Project Online Dispute Resolution (organized by Eduardo Paz Lloveras and funded by the European Commission in 2000) was the first approach for an online dispute resolution mechanism for electronic commerce matters. (See The origins of E-Arbitration-T concept )

In 2013, the European Commission launched directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes which seeks to encourage traders and consumers to participate in these out-of-court mechanisms for resolving disputes. The directive does not give a consumer the right to force a business to use alternative dispute resolution procedures, although member states remain free to make participation mandatory.

In order to encourage the use of such mechanisms, the directive requires member states to ensure that these procedures are available where both parties agree to use them to resolve their dispute. The directive further provides for the establishment of entities to mediate disputes initiated by consumers against traders.
The directive does not deal with disputes initiated by traders or disputes between traders, and only applies to traders established in the EU and consumers resident in the EU in relation to contractual obligations stemming from sales or services contracts, both online and offline. The scope of the directive excludes health care services, public providers of further or higher education, and non-economic services that are performed for no economic consideration.
There is also an dispute resolution for online purchases. EU Regulation 524/2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes entered into force in January 2016, and applies directly in all member states. The regulation obliges the EU Commission to set up a European-wide online platform specifically designed to help consumers seek redress if they have a problem with online purchases.

The Commission has indicated that the platform will be operational as from February 15 and it will be accessible through HERE.
The scope is to create a a single point of entry for consumer and traders alike, free of charge and fast.

The most important facts for traders and consumers:

  • The ODR Platform is an interactive and multilingual platform specifically designed for assisting consumers who have a complaint about goods or services they have bought online.
  • Consumers or traders, when agreeing to ODR, must complete an electronic complaint form, made available on the ODR Platform.
  • The parties then decide which ADR entity shall be competent to settle their contractual dispute. The ADR entities are bodies that comply with the binding quality requirements established by the ADR Directive and which are included in the national lists of ADR bodies.
  • The selected ADR entity shall handle the case entirely online and reaches an outcome within 90 days. The legal value of the decision of the ADR entity will depend on the form of ADR chosen (mediation, arbitration, conciliation, etc).
  • What do I need to do as an online trader?:As a trader engaging in online sales or service contracts with consumers and established within the European Union you will have to inform consumers about the existence of the ODR Platform as well as the possibility of using the ODR Platform for resolving your disputes.

More specifically, keep the following requirement in mind:

  • You must provide on your website(s) an electronic link to the ODR Platform and your own e-mail address. That link must be easily accessible for consumers.
  • If you make commercial offers to consumers via e-mail, similar information should be included in the e-mail.
  • The information shall also be provided in the general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.

OECD urges to overhaul e-consumer dispute resolution – ODR or ADR

OECD urges to overhaul e-consumer dispute resolution – ODR or ADR

OECD countries have agreed a new approach to better protect the rights of consumers and make online shopping safer. They call on national authorities and business to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for people to resolve complaints and get compensation when they are unhappy with goods or services they have bought. The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD.

The OECD Recommendation on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress offers a roadmap for consumer protection agencies to address the practical and legal obstacles that many consumers face when trying to exchange goods or get their money back from firms, in their own country or abroad.

Most OECD countries already have laws or self-regulated schemes to help consumers, ranging from small claims courts to credit card protection and collective action lawsuits. But most of these were designed before e-commerce took off and are poorly suited to handling cross-border complaints. The Recommendation advises countries on steps they should take to update their laws to take into account these new developments.

It also calls on member countries to develop bi-lateral or multi-lateral arrangements in order to improve international judicial co-operation and use technology more effectively, making it easier to share information across borders.

In addition to a framework that details the basic elements necessary to an effective consumer dispute resolution and redress mechanism, it highlights the need for countries, both at a government level and via consumer protection agencies, to tell consumers who to approach when they have a problem and what they can do to resolve it. Companies should also set out clear, simple policies that explain what steps customers should follow to make a complaint and then have it resolved.

Consumers should also have the right to band together to take legal action against a firm, known as “collective action lawsuits.” This is important because in most European countries even if consumers have the right to take collective action in principle, there are so many restrictions that in practice they cannot. This means that their only option is take a firm to court on their own, which is usually too expensive for most people to even consider.

The Recommendation builds on a substantial body of OECD work carried out over the past decade on consumer policy issues. These include the 1999 OECD Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/18/13/34023235.pdf), the 2003 OECD Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Commercial Practices Across Borders ( www.oecd.org/dataoecd/24/33/2956464.pdf) and a 2005 Report on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress in the Global Marketplace (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/26/61/36456184.pdf).

See the full text of the Recommendation. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Peter Avery, OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Directorate (+ 33. 1. 45. 24. 93. 63).

For furher information, see www.oecd.org/sti/consumer-policy

What is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Database (UDRP-DB)?

What is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Database (UDRP-DB)?

The Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) established a process as well as a policy, a set of procedures for resolving domain name disputes as well as a set of standards to be employed in making decisions. The principal standard is ?bad faith? but in order to determine whether a domain name holder?s behavior violates this standard, a fairly detailed process was put in place for selecting panelists, obtaining and exchanging information, reaching a decision within a specified time period, and, depending upon the decision of the panelist, changing, canceling or preserving the registration.

The UDRP process, like all legal processes, consists of a string of coordinated communication and information processing activities. Parties, panelists and providers must acquire, retrieve, understand, communicate and evaluate information in order to reach the end point of the process. If any of these informational activities are burdensome, the process may not operate efficiently, and, if more burdensome for one party than the other, the process may be unfair. For example, obstacles placed in the way of searching for information can affect whether certain arguments are made and how they are framed, whether costs are higher than they need to be, whether professional expertise is needed, and even whether a respondent decides to participate in the process.

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Database (UDRP-DB) Homepage

The UDRP-DB helps those who need information about UDRP decisions to actually obtain it, and it is more efficient information retrieval system to be put in place so that parties, lawyers, panelists, and others can obtain the information that they need in a systematic way.

Section 4J. of the UDRP states that. All decisions under this Policy will be published in full over the Internet. By the time as few as ten or twenty decisions appeared in early 2000, users of the UDRP recognized that there was a problem. While providers could post decisions at little cost and any user with a Web browser could read a decision, every additional case posted made it harder to find out which case one might want to read. One could read decisions which one could find but the growing universe of decisions made finding information in decisions increasingly difficult. Continue reading What is the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy Database (UDRP-DB)?