The European Commission's new online dispute resolution (ODR) platform for consumer disputes will now go live on 15 February 2016. The platform can be accessed at

Originally due to go live on 9 January 2016, the Commission found that a number of member states were not ready to implement the new requirements, so online traders will now have a further 3 weeks to familiarise themselves with their obligations and update their websites and communications.

Background to online the ODR platform

Since 9 July 2015, all traders selling to consumers have had access to a certified provider of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) under the ADR Regulations 2015. Although the Regulations do not require traders to use ADR, from 1 October 2015, all traders selling to consumers were required to provide consumers with details of a certified ADR provider and inform the consumer whether they intended to use ADR.

As ADR is commonly facilitated through online technology, the European Commission is setting up an online dispute resolution platform (ODR) under the Consumer ODR Regulation. This will allow consumers who have a complaint about a product or service bought online to submit the complaint via an online complaint form to a trader based in another European country. The platform will include a translation service intended to simplify cross-border dispute resolution.

What do online traders need to do to ensure compliance with the ODR Regulation?

From 15 February 2016, an online trader will be required to provider certain information to consumers in respect of the ODR platform:

  • Any online traders which are required by law or a trade association to use a particular ADR entity must also provide information on the ODR in their online sales or service contracts. This applies not just to contracts concluded on a website, but also through other electronic means - including on a mobile phone. The contracts should alert consumers to the existence of the ODR platform and the option to use it to resolve any disputes.
  • These regulated online traders must also include a link to the ODR platform in any offer made to consumers by email.
  • Every online trader and market place must display a link to the ODR platform on its website.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has issued a guide on ADR for businesses, though the section on ODR is fairly brief. We expect further guidance to be issued once the platform has been fully launched - stay tuned for further updates.

In the meantime, if you are a consumer facing business and would like to understand how the new rules impact on your business, please contact Martin Sloan or your usual Brodies contact if you would like to discuss ADR or your obligations under the Regulations in more detail.


Martin Sloan