The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform, set up by the European Commission, went live on 15 February 2016. The web-based platform was developed to provide consumers and traders with a simple, quick and low-cost way to resolve their contractual disputes regarding online purchases of goods and services, without the need for court proceedings.
Online traders selling goods or services to consumers are now legally required to:
- provide a link to the ODR Platform on their website which must be easily accessible for consumers;
- state their email address on their website as a first point of contact;
- inform consumers of the existence of the ODR Platform and the possibility of using the platform to resolve disputes;
- include this information in any standard terms and conditions of business; and
- include a link to the ODR Platform in any emails sent to the consumer offering goods or including some kind of commercial offer.
Despite the result of the recent EU referendum, these information requirements will still apply until the UK actually leaves the EU.
If a trader fails to comply with these information requirements, trading standards services can apply for a court order requiring them to comply. If the order is not complied with, the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine and two years’ imprisonment.
‘If you have a concern or wish to make a complaint, please do contact us in the first place. However, if the matter cannot be resolved between us, you may want to consider using the EU’s Online Dispute Resolution Platform to resolve the dispute.’
If you have any questions relating to the ODR platform, or any other commercial law issue, please email us at [email protected].