On 9 January 2016 the UK Government implemented EU Regulation 524/2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes, which contains a requirement for traders in all sectors, with a few exceptions including financial services, to provide information to consumers about a new Online Dispute Resolution (‘ODR’) procedure. The legislation applies to all contractual disputes both domestically and cross-border, where the trader is established in the EU and the consumer is an EU resident. The procedure will allow consumers and traders to resolve their disputes without going to court in an easy, fast and cheap way. The procedure applies to the provision of goods and services.

The European Commission has set up an online platform for the ODR procedure and this goes live on 15 February 2016. Prior to this date Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies that already comply with the EU’s mandatory quality requirements are signing up to the platform and acquainting themselves with it.

Online Traders are required to have a link to the ODR platform on their websites. Consumers who experience a problem with any goods or services that they have bought online will be able to submit their dispute to the platform where it will be picked up by the appropriate dispute resolution body who will assist them in resolving their issue.

This new law provides further rights to Consumers, an aim that has been high on the UK Government Agenda. They will have easier access to methods to help resolve disputes, no doubt leading to an increase in complaints. The platform will also benefit traders who will be able to gain a greater understanding into what their customers expect and want from them. They will also have more information quickly relating to the shortfalls in their goods or services.