24 Mar Implementation of the European Dispute Resolution Platform (RLL – ODR) and its consequences for companies conducting their business with consumers online
On 12 April 2016,the Club of Public services Mediators, of which ENGIE Group’s Mediator is a Board member, invited Mr. Olivier Micol, Head of Entity in the Department of Justice and Consumers of the European Commission (DG Justice and Consumers), so that he could explain to members of the Club how the platform was set up and how it operates.
The ENGIE Group’s Mediator was represented at this meeting and has since then started to inform the relevant entities and subsidiaries of the Group of the consequences of setting up this platform.
Contrary to what one might think, this platform is not intended for the Ombudsmen and mediators but for the companies themselves. Any company that markets goods and services to consumers online must register proactively on this platform.
Mr. Micol reminded us of that : “EU law requires professionals established in the EU and participating in online sales or service contracts to indicate on their website their e-mail address” (see Article 14 Of ODR Regulation No 524/2013). Thus, the consumer having a dispute with a professional can easily find the email address of the latter and enter it in his complaint form on the ODR platform. When the consumer submits his complaint, the ODR platform will automatically generate an email which will be sent to the professional’s email address so he can connect to the platform to discover the complaint against him.
In this context, it is highly recommended that the professional set up his mailbox so that the automatic messages from the ODR platform are not rejected or do not come to the spam folder. One way for the professional to address this problem is actually to pro-actively register on the ODR platform by indicating an email address to which the ODR automatic messages will be sent.
Details of the registration procedure of the professional can be found in the user guide available on the ODR platform: first create an ECAS (European Commission Authentication System) account and then follow the instructions Mentioned in Step 2/4. In addition, DG Justice and Consumers has developed a specific user guide with screenshots for the registration of professionals.
Mr. Micol also recalls that “Professionals established in the Union, participating in online sales or service contracts, who undertake or are required to use one or more alternative dispute resolution entities (in France : Mediators) to resolve disputes with consumers inform them about the existence of the ODR platform and the possibility of using it to settle their disputes”. They provide an electronic link to the ODR platform on their website (http://ec.europa.eu/odr) and in an email if the offer is made by email. This information can also be found in the general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.
Alternative dispute resolution entities (or mediators in France) are also required to:
- Provide an electronic link to the ODR platform on their website (see Article 5 of ODR Regulation No 524/2013);
- Make it available to the public on their website by providing a link to the Commission’s website (the following page of the ODR platform: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/? Event = main.adr.show) and, to the extent possible on a durable medium on their premises, the list of alternative dispute resolution entities (see Article 15.1 of ADR 2013/11 / EU).
Following the meeting with the Club of Public services Mediators, the DG Justice and Consumers, aware of the need to inform companies of these provisions (in addition to the action that mediators have undertaken within their perimeter), has initiated, in conjunction with the competent entities in each Member State, a communication approach aimed at companies (in particular the main commercial players on the Web).
For instance, it has undertaken the following projects in order to accelerate the provision of information to consumers and their proactive registration on its platform
- The development of ‘clickable’ web banners – available in all EU languages - redirecting to the ODR platform to facilitate the task of professionals and entities for alternative dispute resolution,
- The creation of an infographic document aimed for professionals and summarizing the steps of the procedure on the ODR platform,
- The launch of an information campaign on social networks (Facebook and Twitter) aimed at professionals and consumers, including a video.
For more information: http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/sell-abroad/resolving-disputes/index_en.htm