On 4 November 2017, Act 7/2017, on consumer alternative dispute resolution systems for consumer disputes (the "Act") which implements EU Directive 2013/11, was published. The main purpose of the Act is to ensure access for Spanish and European consumers to independent, impartial, transparent and effective alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
The act sets out that traders must inform consumers of the existence of ADR entities. The information obligation should be fulfilled as follows:
- Traders adhering to an authorized ADR entity or those who are bound by a rule or code of conduct to accept the intervention of an ADR entity in case of consumer disputes must inform consumers about the possibility of submitting their dispute to that entity. The information shall include a full identification of the ADR entity and shall be provided in a clear and identifiable way and included in the general terms and conditions that govern the sale or service provided to consumers;
- Traders that provide online sales or service, e-commerce platforms and online markets, must include in their website a link to the European online dispute resolution (ODR) platform https://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.home.show&lng=ES
Failing to comply with such information obligation is considered a serious infringement against consumers which triggers the imposition of the consequent sanctions set out in the Spanish Consumer and Users regulation.
The Act also states that when a claim is submitted to any ADR entity, prescription and expiration periods shall be interrupted or suspended as established at the applicable regulation.
It also sets out that any dispute shall be solved within a maximum period of 90 days from the receipt of the consumer's complaint and that the final decision to an ADR mandatory procedure does not prevent the possibility of taking a common action in court.
Likewise, the Act establishes the requirements that Spanish ADR entities shall meet to be recognized as authorized ADR entities, the authorization procedure and other aspects related to the ADR procedure such as costs (it shall be free for consumers).