In June 2011, the European Parliament published a draft report on ADR in civil, commercial and family matters. The report can be viewed here.
In the draft report, the Parliament made the following points:
- Any approach to ADR should go beyond consumer disputes, to encompass business-to-business, civil, commercial, family and defamation disputes;
- ADR standards should include: adherence to ADR; independence, impartiality and confidentiality; effects on limitation and prescription; enforceability of agreements resulting from ADR; and qualification of third parties;
- While self-regulation is important, legislative action is necessary to provide a framework for ADR within Member States;
- Caution should be exercised in making ADR compulsory at EU level;
- There should be an obligation on the third party to keep ADR information confidential. The Parliament is considering the creation of a professional privilege;
- There is great potential in online ADR, particularly for smaller claims. Where ADR is carried out online, procedural standards should not be lowered and issues such as the enforceability of awards should be resolved;
- There is potential for ADR within the ongoing discussion on collective redress (as to which see item 9 below);
- More information should be given to citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises about ADR schemes in general; and
- The Commission should explore providing a harmonised legal framework for some aspects of ADR across sectors.
In our last ADR e-bulletin, we reported on the consultation launched by the EU Directorate General for Health and Consumers on the use of ADR as a means of resolving commercial disputes in the EU. The consultation closed in March and responses were published in May 2011. They can be viewed here. The responses to the consultation will be used to inform the legislative proposal on ADR which the EU Commission has committed to producing in late 2011. The draft report is essentially the next step towards this legislative proposal.