Last Saturday, 9 January 2016, the first obligation of EU Regulation No 524/2013 which addresses consumer online dispute resolution became effective. Under the Regulation, "traders established within the Union engaging in online sales or service contracts, and online marketplaces established within the Union" now have to provide an electronic link to the ODR platform on their websites. The ODR link must be "easily accessible for consumers". Additionally, traders established within the Union engaging in online sales or service contracts must also state their e-mail addresses.
The ODR link that must be included - http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/ - was published by the commission a few days ago. The ODR platform itself is not yet online but, according to the Commission, "will be operational as of 15 February 2016".
We advise traders that are within the scope of the regulation to add the link to their websites immediately, in a format such as this:
- "ODR platform (Art. 14 of EU Regulation No 524/2013):
We suggest that the link be placed in your web imprint near your e-mail address.
As the ODR website is not yet functional the risk of receiving a warning letter may be a little lower than usual for now, but as soon as this changes there will be a high risk to traders who do not comply with the new requirement.
The obligation to include the ODR link is the first requirement to be implemented under the Regulation and its accompanying Directive 2013/11/EU. National legislation based on the Directive will soon provide the opportunity for traders to register and participate in consumer ADR to settle disputes with consumers with the details and exact dates varying from country to country. For most traders participation in consumer ADR will be optional. The requirement to link to the platform, however, is mandatory.