On 9 January 2016, EU Regulation 524/2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes entered into force.

What’s new?

  1. ODR Platform

Pursuant to this Regulation, the European Commission has developed/implemented the EU “Online Dispute Resolution” (“ODR”) platform. The ODR platform is an interactive website which can be accessed electronically and free of charge. It is intended to be a single point of entry for consumers and traders seeking the out-of-court (online) settlement of their disputes, both for domestic and cross-border purchases within the EU.

The platform will be opened for use by consumers and traders as from 15 February 2016, and is accessible via the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/.

  1. Information obligations for EU online traders (and marketplaces)

As from 9 January 2016, in addition to their existing information obligations under Belgian/EU consumer protection legislation:

  • EU established operators of B2C web shops and online marketplaces (websites allowing consumers and traders to conclude online sales and service contracts) have to provide on their website an easily accessible electronic link to the ODR platform;
  • EU established operators of B2C web shops have to communicate their e-mail address(es) on their website; and
  • EU established operators of B2C web shops which are (i) voluntarily committed or (ii) obliged to use Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve disputes with consumers (e.g. mediation, ombudsman in the financial, travel, telecom or energy sector), have to:
    • inform consumers about the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using the ODR platform for resolving their disputes;
    • provide an electronic link to the ODR platform on their website and, if the offer is made by e-mail, in that e-mail; and
    • also provide this information in their general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.

Online traders and marketplaces may take the entry into force of the ODR Regulation as an opportunity to check whether their terms and conditions for online sales and their website disclaimers are still up to date.