Labour MEP for Munster, Phil Prendergast, has hailed the approval by the European Parliament of a legislative package meant to provide all consumers across the EU with an out-of-court alternative to settle their disputes relating to any goods and services bought anywhere in the EU.
Ms. Prendergast stated: “This legislative package is a significant breakthrough for consumer empowerment in the EU’s internal market. This legislation establishes universal access to out-of-court, Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms (ADR) which are cheaper, faster and easier to use.
“It has huge cost saving benefits for consumers, with an estimated potential to save consumers about €22.5 billion in court proceedings a year. Moreover, the money lost by consumers due to issues relating to purchases across the border, in the EU, is estimated between €500 million and €1billion.”
“Once this legislation is in force, whenever a consumer purchases goods and services anywhere in the EU, be it at home or abroad, he or she will know that it is possible to solve any contractual dispute arising from that sale without having to go to court.
“ADR procedures will either be free of charge or at a nominal fee and run according to fixed deadlines. The ADR procedure must reach an outcome within 90 calendar days.”
“While ADR bodies have become increasingly common, up until now, they were only available in some regions or applicable to some sectors.
“ADR entities are required to maintain updated websites which enable consumers to submit complaints and have disputes solved online.
“This package includes a regulation on Online Dispute Resolution for consumers. It sets up an electronic platform providing a single point of entry for consumers who have a complaint arising from a cross-border purchase of goods or services. Traders will be required to inform consumers of its existence.
“Strong criteria for impartiality and independence have been put in place, excluding the recognition of in-house mediation, where the procedure is led by an employee of the trader.”