Businesses that trade online required to link to Online Dispute Resolution website

11 February 2016

From Monday 15 February, all businesses which trade online will need to provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website.

All online traders are already required to have a contact email address on their website (an online contact form that does not show the email address is not sufficient). From Monday 15 February, all businesses which trade online must also provide a link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) website portal.  You can find the ODR portal here : http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/

The ODR platform is a web-based platform that is specifically designed to help consumers who have bought goods or services online and subsequently have a problem with that online purchase. It allows consumers to submit their contractual dispute and conduct the ADR procedure online and in any of the 23 official languages of the European Union. The ODR platform transmits disputes only to ADR bodies who are included in the national lists of ADR bodies that comply with the binding quality requirements established by the ADR Directive.

The new rules are designed to offer a quicker and cheaper alternative to the court system when disputes cannot be resolved between the consumer and the business directly. Here you can find a factsheet on the ODR platform. The legal requirement is only to put the link on your website - there is not yet a requirement to use the platform. The rules apply to traders who offer and allow customers to buy goods through their website or by other electronic means. Having a website that sets out what your company does is not enough to make your company an online trader.

As well as the members that trade online, all BWF members should already be aware of the recently introduced requirements on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that has now been absorbed into UK law. These mean that you are required to signpost the customer to an approved, independent ADR provider – an ombudsman or similar scheme – so there is the option if both parties wish to pursue it (even though it’s not mandatory for businesses or consumers to use it).

The ADR bodies are regulated by the Institute for Trading Standards, and the full list of approved ADR bodies can be found at: www.tradingstandards.uk/advice/ADRApprovedBodies.cfm

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