Under new regulations online businesses must provide an easily accessible link to the European Commission’s online dispute resolution platform (“ODR Platform”) on their websites along with their email addresses from 15 February 2016. While it is mandatory to include a link to the ODR Platform, use of the platform is subject to agreement between the consumer and business.

The European Union (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015 (SI 500 of 2015) (the “ODR Regulations”) affects businesses established in the European Union that sell goods or services online to consumers and online marketplaces.

What is the purpose of the ODR Platform?

The ODR Platform will allow consumers who have a complaint about goods or services they bought online, to fill out an electronic form, free of charge, which is sent to the company. Once both parties agree on an ADR entity, the complaint will automatically be transferred to that party who will work on reaching an outcome.

What happens if we do not comply?

It is an offence for a business not to comply with the ODR Regulations. If guilty, a business can be liable on summary conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both. If it is proved that an offence has been committed with the consent, connivance or approval of or due to the neglect of an officer of a company (including a director, manager, secretary), that person as well as the business will be liable for the offence. 

What should we do?

If your business falls within the ODR Regulations, it will be necessary to amend your website. Failure to do so will constitute an offence and so, the time to act is now before it is too late.