Following a raft of changes to consumer law over the last couple of years, 2016 has started with the next instalment for businesses to consider when engaging with customers.
With effect from the 15th February 2016 the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform was live and will be actively enforced. Businesses need to update their terms and conditions in order to comply with the terms.
What does it mean?
The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 require traders to give information about alternative dispute resolution entities. This is the case for every business who is providing goods and services to consumers, for example an estate agent acting on your behalf in the sale of your home.
From 15th February 2016 any online providers are also required to give information about the new ODR Platform being established by the European Commission. So, for example, an online retailer will need to include a hyperlink to the ODR Platform and provide information about use of alternative dispute resolution.
Businesses need to provide the consumer with:
1. A statement as to whether they intend to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution process for settlement of any complaints (please note that 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);
2. The name and details of an ADR provider must be provided in the event of an unresolved complaint;
3. In the event of a trader that provides goods or services online, a link to the ODR Platform (https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/?event=main.home.show)
If a trader fails to comply with the information requirements then trading standards can apply for a court order requiring them to comply. Using alternative dispute resolution remains voluntary, but it is compulsory to provide certain information through their terms and conditions. Failure to do so could lead to an unlimited fine and a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.
Bright Solicitors are experts in business law. For more information please contact Matt Cook, our head of Commercial department.
For more information please contact Matt Cook
Phone Number: 01752 388883