New rules on dispute resolution
When consumers have a problem with a trader regarding a product or service they bought, they can settle their dispute out-of-court through an Alternative Dispute Resolution or Online Dispute Resolution (ADR / ODR) procedure.
As such procedures are an alternative to resolving disputes before a court they are called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). When they are carried out online, they are called Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).
Resolving disputes through ADR/ODR, in general, is easier, faster and less expensive than resolving disputes before a court.
In the European Union, ADR/ODR procedures can take different forms and they can have different names, for example arbitration, mediation, ombudsmen, complaints boards.
In Sweden, new legislation will mostly affect traders, as well as the following authorities:
- The National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN - who has recently received new regulations)
- The Swedish Consumer Agency, who is to ensure that the rules are followed. ECC Sweden - an independent unit within the Swedish Consumer Agency - has been appointed contact point for the ODR, (Online Dispute Resolution).
The legislation on ADR and ODR
The legislation on ADR and ODR will allow consumers and traders to resolve their disputes without going to court in an easy, fast and inexpensive way.
The ADR Directive ensures that consumers have access to ADR for resolving their contractual disputes with traders. Access to ADR is ensured no matter what product or service they purchased (only disputes regarding health and higher education are excluded), whether the product or service was purchased online or offline and whether the trader is established in the consumer’s Member State or in another Member State.
Member States will establish national lists of bodies offering ADR procedures (ADR bodies). All ADR bodies included in those lists will have to comply with binding quality requirements.
The ODR platform
Under the ODR Regulation, the European Commission has established a European Online Dispute Resolution platform (ODR platform). The ODR platform is a web-based platform that is specifically designed to help consumers, who have bought goods or services online, and subsequently have a problem with that online purchase.
It allows consumers to submit their contractual dispute and conduct the ADR procedure online and in any of the 23 official languages of the European Union. The ODR platform transmits disputes only to ADR bodies who are included in the national lists of ADR bodies that comply with the binding quality requirements established by the ADR Directive.
How do you report national cases?
Consumers should be able to file complaints in all official EU languages. In national disputes, the consumer should report to ARN via their website.
Should you be in a dispute with a lawyer or law firm, and the dispute is in regards to the service itself, report to the Swedish Bar Association's Consumer Dispute Board via their website.
The Swedish Consumer Agency do not give indicative examples
As of today, ECC Sweden, who has been appointed contact point for the ODR, has not received any information from the European Commission, on how traders are to provide the link to the online platform. Many traders have asked the Swedish Consumer Agency for indicative examples.
The Swedish Consumer Agency strives to inform traders what the rules are, so that they can write their own information texts.
The Swedish Consumer Agency do not give indicative examples, as it would be a binding advance notice, which we are not allowed to give.
Are you a trader?
E-traders are obligated to inform the consumers on the ODR platform, as well as the alternative dispute resolution bodies, such as ARN, the contact points such as ECC Sweden, and the competent authorities, such as Kammarkollegiet and the Swedish Consumer Agency.