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The UK government has now published the principal legislation that will implement the European ADR Directive and the European Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Regulation, both of which seek to encourage the use of ADR to resolve consumer disputes across the EU.  (See our previous posts for details of the EU legislation and the UK's implementation plans).

Alongside provisions aimed at improving the UK infrastructure for ADR in consumer disputes, the legislative package also extends the obligations on businesses to provide consumers with information about ADR options.

Almost all UK businesses selling goods, services or digital content to consumers in the EU will need to ensure that they comply with the new requirements, which may involve reviewing websites, contractual terms and complaints handling procedures before the first operative date, 1 October 2015.

Key points:

The new legislative package does not introduce any form of mandatory ADR. However:

From 1 October 2015:

  • All businesses that are legally obliged (or have committed) to use a certified ADR entity must provide information about that entity on their website and in any contractual terms with consumers.
  • All businesses (regardless of whether they are committed to using ADR or intend to use it) must, in the event of an unresolved consumer complaint, signpost the consumer to an appropriate certified ADR provider and advise whether or not the business agrees (or is obliged) to use ADR in the dispute.

From 9 January 2016:

  • All businesses that sell goods or services online must provide on their website a link to the EU Commission's ODR Platform (as must all online marketplace websites). Online traders who are committed to using ADR must also provide information about the ODR Platform in their contractual terms.

Read our briefing on the new rules here.