In mid-February, the European Commission launched an online platform which can be used for out-of-court settlement of disputes over obligations under business-to- consumer online sales or service contracts. The platform is available for free to a trader established in the EU and a consumer resident in the EU. Consumers can submit an electronic complaint and, if the parties agree on the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entity to be used and the chosen ADR entity agrees to handle the case, the platform can be used for the exchange of information between the parties and the ADR entity. Whether traders can initiate the process depends on the national law of the EU member state in which the consumer lives. The platform is supported by all EU official languages.

Following the launch of the platform, EU marketplaces and traders now need to comply with new consumer information requirements:

  • Online marketplaces must include on their websites an electronic link to this platform.
  • Traders established in the EU and selling online must include on their websites an electronic link to this platform and the trader’s email address.
  • A trader that must use an ADR entity (for example by law or will of a trade association) or is committed to do so for resolution of disputes with consumers must:
  • Include on its website an electronic link to this platform; and
  • Inform consumers that the platform exists and of the possibility of using it for dispute resolution.
  • These new information requirements are additional to other information obligations relating to the ADR, which came into force on 1 October 2015.