ADR in Europe

Do you encounter problems with a trader in France or in another European country? All over Europe alternative dispute resolution bodies help you solving your disputes – in most cases free of charge.

Update : Oct 2018

What you need to know: The competent ADR body is usually based in the same country as the trader. However, ADR procedures take place in written form. As a consequence, consumers can take part in ADR procedures from home. Often it is already enough to complete the online form of the ADR body or send an e-mail.

The map of Europe gives you an overview of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies in every EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. In addition, you are informed whether the ADR procedure is free of charge and in which language a complaint can be filed.

Before you contact an ADR body in Europe, please read this advice:

  1. Where a trader is based can be found in the imprint on its website
  2. Make sure you have tried to solve the dispute with the trader first
  3. If possible, use the ADR body’s online complaint form

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We support you in filling your complaint before the competent ADR body and – if necessary – to overcome language barriers (odr@evz.de; 49 (0)7851 991 48 60). Our services are free of charge for consumers.

Click on the country in which the trader is based (Liechtenstein is on the map but very small).

Austria

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

If there is no specialised ADR body, consumers can submit their complaint to the general ADR body or in case of an ecommerce-dispute to the Internet Ombudsman.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers. Traders only have to pay fees at the agency for passenger rights.

Languages: The language of the proceedings is German. Some ADR bodies accept complaints submitted in English, e.g. the ADR body for energy and the ADR body for financial services. In these cases, also the proceedings may take place in English.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose a neutral solution. This proposal becomes binding on consumers and traders only if they accept it.

Specifics: Most ADR bodies reject complaints if consumers do not submit them within one year after they complained to the trader without success.

Belgium

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Belgium, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

In addition, there is a general ADR body: Consumer Mediation Service (public service). It handles consumer complaints, if there is no specialised ADR body.

Costs: Most ADR procedures provide their services free of charge to consumers and traders. Only the ADR bodies for travel, cars and construction ask them to pay fees.

Languages: Consumers can file their complaints in Dutch and French. Some ADR bodies also accept complaints filed in German or English. For example, the general ADR body accepts them in German.

Dispute resolution: Only decisions of the ADR body for the travel sector are binding on consumers and traders. All other ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Consumers can always turn to the general ADR body. If the case does not fall under its jurisdiction, it will forward the complaint to the competent specialised ADR body.

In addition to these ADR bodies there are other out-of-court dispute resolution bodies in Belgium that help consumers to solve their disputes with traders, for example the ombudsman for rail passengers.

Bulgaria

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Bulgaria, specialised ADR bodies cover the sectors:

  •  public transport (train, airplane, ship)
  •  postal services and electronic telecommunication
  •  road traffic
  •  financial services
  •  private social insurances and insurances
  •  energy and gas
  •  water supply

In addition, a general ADR body, the General Conciliation Committee, covers all remaining sectors.

These specialised ADR bodies and the general ADR body belong to a Bulgarian consumer protection authority: the Commission for Consumer Protection.

Moreover, a private ADR body covers traders from many different sectors: the Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (НАИС ПРО). The National Association for Out-of-Court Settlements runs this body. Traders must be associated with it.

Costs: All ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers and traders.

Language: Proceedings take place in Bulgarian.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders associated with the Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution are obliged to participate in ADR procedures. Participation in procedures before the Commission for Consumer Protection is voluntary.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: ADR bodies reject complaints if consumers do not submit them within one year after they complained unsuccessfully to the trader.

 

Iceland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies are currently not available in Iceland. In case of a dispute with an Icelandic trader you can turn to out-of-court bodies in many sectors, e.g.

The European Consumer Centre Germany informs you on how to contact these bodies and to claim your rights. Send us your question or complaint via our complaint form.

 

 

 

Croatia

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Croatia, there is one specialised ADR body for insurances.

In addition, several ADR bodies cover disputes between consumers and traders irrespective of the sector:

Consumers can only file complaints before the Chamber of Trades and Crafts and the Chamber of Economy, if the trader is associated with them.

Costs: Procedures at the ADR body for insurances, the Courts of Honour and the Mediation Centre at the Croatian Employers’ Association are free of charge for consumers and traders. The other ADR bodies charge consumers and traders fees depending on the value of the dispute.

Languages: Most ADR bodies hold their proceedings in Croatian and English. Some of them also accept complaints filed in German and Italian.

Obligatory trader participation: At most ADR bodies traders are not obliged to participate. The Courts of Honour can make a binding decision even without having received a statement from the trader.

Dispute resolution: Decisions of the Courts of Honour are binding on consumers and traders. Most other ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: In exceptional cases ADR bodies require the physical presence of both parties.

Most ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not filed within one year after the consumer complained in written form to the trader without success.

 

Cyprus

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There is one ADR body in Cyprus, the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation (authority). It is competent for all disputes regarding electronic communications, postal services, internet and television

Costs: Procedures are free of charge for both consumers and traders.

Languages: Proceedings are held in Greek and English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obliged to take part in proceedings before the ADR body for electronic communications and postal services.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. They can be binding for traders (not for consumers). Otherwise, they become binding only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: A new law on ADR was passed in July 2017. More ADR bodies will follow in the forthcoming months.

Czech Republic

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the Czech Republic, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

All specialised ADR bodies are hosted by public authorities. If no specialised ADR body is available, consumers can file complaints before a general ADR body, the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (public) or the Czech Consumer Association (private).

Costs: ADR procedures are mostly free of charge for both consumers and traders. At the ADR body for telecommunications consumers have to pay a fee.

Languages: Proceedings are held in Czech. Before the Czech Trade Inspection Authority they are also carried out in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obliged to participate in all ADR procedures in the Czech Republic.

Dispute resolution: Decisions of the Czech ADR bodies for telecommunications and financial services are binding on consumers and traders. All other ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: The Czech Trade Inspection Authority and the Czech Consumer Association reject complaints if consumers do not file them within one year after they unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

 

Denmark

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Denmark, there are specialised ADR bodies for many sectors, for example:

Many specialised ADR bodies are organised either jointly by business organisations and the Danish Consumer Council or exclusively by business organisations.

If none of these ADR bodies is competent to handle the complaint, consumers can turn to the Complaints Resolution Centre that belongs to the Ministry of Economy.

The European Commission provides for a list with all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are sometimes free of charge for consumers and traders but often consumers have to pay a procedural fee. For example, at the Complaints Resolution Centre consumers need to pay 13,50 EUR (100 DKK) and traders are exempted from fees.

Languages: Proceedings are held in Danish. Some ADR bodies also handle complaints in English or German, for example the ADR body for the rental of holiday homes.

Obligatory trader participation: Even if traders are not willing to participate in ADR procedures, they may be obliged to pay the procedural fee. In addition, ADR bodies propose a solution, even if traders do not give a statement.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: The Complaints Resolution Centre rejects complaints if their value is less than 130 EUR (1.000 DKK) or more than 13.400 EUR (100.000 DKK). Complaints regarding clothes and shoes must have a minimum value of 85 EUR (650 DKK).

If no solution is found at the Complaints Resolution Centre, the consumer can forward the complaint to the Danish Consumer Complaints Board within 30 days. Consumers have to pay another fee to start this procedure. The decision issued by the Danish Consumer Complaints Board is enforceable unless it is contested by the trader within 30 days.

ADR bodies can reject complaints if consumers have been passive for too long since the last correspondence with the trader. This is usually assessed case-by-case.

Estonia

Alternative Dispute Resolution Bodies: In Estonia, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

All other disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Disputes Committee. It is an independent unit that belongs to the Ministry of Economics.

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for consumers and mostly for traders. Only the ADR body for insurances charges traders an administration fee.

Language(s): All three ADR bodies hold proceedings in Estonian. The Consumer Disputes Committee accepts documents in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders do not have to take part in ADR proceedings. However, irrespective of their participation, ADR bodies always propose a solution. 

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them. If traders do not accept and comply with solutions proposed by the Consumer Disputes Committee, they are included in a list published online.

Specifics: Procedures before the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Estonia and the ADR body, the Consumer Disputes Committee, can be linked. Traders only have to give their statement once.

 

 

Finland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Finland, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

In addition, the Consumer Disputes Board handles all types of disputes between consumers and traders except for transactions related to financial instruments and shares. It is an independent expert board appointed by the Ministry of Justice.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers and traders.

Languages: Complaints can be filed in Finnish or Swedish. The ADR body for financial services and insurances accepts complaints filed in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are free to decide whether they want to take part in an ADR procedure.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: There are deadlines to be respect for filing a complaint. For example, the ADR body for financial services and insurances rejects complaints filed later than two years after the last contact of the consumer with the trader.

France

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In France, there are specialised ADR bodies for different sectors, for example:

  • retail (E-Commerce)
  • tourism
  • public transport
  • car sales and repair
  • telecommunication
  • postal services
  • financial services
  • insurances
  • energy
  • water supply
  • lawyers

Public authorities run two of these ADR bodies: one covers the energy sector and the other some financial services like financial product marketing and asset management.

Business associations run most of the private ADR bodies. In addition, some businesses including banks established their own ADR bodies. Finally, there are ADR bodies independent of business associations and businesses.

If traders are not associated with a private ADR body, consumers cannot file complaints against them.

Before turning to a public or private ADR body, consumers have to contact the trader's customer service and consumer service first.

The French government makes available an overview of all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers but in most cases not for traders. ADR bodies run by business associations often charge companies membership fees. Before the two ADR bodies run by public authorities neither traders nor consumers have to pay a fee.

Languages: The procedural language is French. At some ADR bodies the complaint can be filed in English or German.

Obligatory trader participation: Participation in ADR procedures is voluntary. However, traders are obliged by law to propose an ADR procedure and indicate the competent ADR body to consumers in case of a dispute.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Decisions issued by ADR bodies are confidential. They can only be used in court procedures if both parties agree on it.

Some ADR bodies reject complaints if consumers do not file them within one year after having unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

Germany

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Germany, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

If no specialised ADR body is available to handle the complaint, consumers can turn to the General Consumer Conciliation Body. If the trader is based in North-Rhine-Westphalia, the Laywer's Consumer Conciliation Beard NRW is also competent for.

The Federal Office of Justice provides for a list with all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers; traders mostly need to pay a fee.

Languages: Proceedings are held in German. Complaints against air carriers can be filed in English. However, the procedural language remains German.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are often obliged to take part in ADR procedures. For example, before the ADR bodies for energy supply, the financial sector and air carriers. This means, that they need to carry the procedural costs.

In other sectors and before the general ADR body their participation is voluntary.

Dispute resolution: Solutions proposed by most ADR bodies become only binding if both parties accept them. Proposals of the ADR body for insurances and of some ADR bodies in the financial sector are binding for traders (not consumers) if the claim’s value does not exceed 10.000 €.

Specifics: There are further out-of-court dispute resolution bodies in Germany, for example for e-commerce.

Detailed information on ADR bodies and other out-of-court dispute resolution bodies can be found on the website of the European Consumer Centre Germany in the category ‘alternative dispute resolution – ADR in Germany’.

 

 

 

Greece

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Greece, there is one specialised ADR body for financial services and investments.

In addition, three general ADR bodies accept all kinds of consumer disputes: 

Costs: The procedure is always free of charge for consumers. Traders have to pay procedural fees before the ADR Point and the European Institute for Conflict Resolution.

Languages: Except for the general ADR body run by a public authority, ADR proceedings can be held in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are free to decide whether they want to take part in ADR procedures.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Consumers must file their complaint within one year after they unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

In some cases, the physical presence of the parties is required.

An ADR body can reject a case, if it was already pending before another ADR body. This restriction, though, is not applicable to the Independent Authority ‘Consumer Ombudsman’.

Hungary

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Hungary, a specialised ADR body covers disputes with traders related to financial services, investments and insurances (arbitration board). It is part of the Hungarian Central Bank.

For all other disputes, consumers can turn to the regional arbitration boards, one in Budapest and several in other regions. These arbitration boards are associated with the regional chambers of commerce. Consumers from other European countries can turn to the regional arbitration board where the trader is based.

The regional arbitration boards consist of an equal number of representatives from the chambers of commerce and consumer organisations.

The European Commission provides for a list with all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers and traders.

Languages: Consumer have to file their complaints in Hungarian. Complaints to the Financial Arbitration board can also be submitted in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obliged to take part in ADR procedures. This means that they at least have to give a written statement. Otherwise, they can be fined. Irrespective of the trader’s participation, the ADR body will issue a recommendation.

Dispute resolution: Decisions of the Financial Arbitration Board are binding for traders if the value of the consumer’s claim does not exceed 3.230 EUR and the ADR body decides in favour of the consumer. For consumers they become binding only if they accept them.

Before the Financial Arbitration Board and regional arbitration boards traders can already declare before or during the procedure that they will accept the decision.

In all other cases, arbitration boards only propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them. If traders fail to follow proposals of the regional arbitration boards, the chambers of commerce may publish their names.

Specifics: In most cases, the ADR bodies require the physical presence of the parties. However, it is possible to be represented.

 

 

Ireland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Ireland, there is one ADR body: NetNeutrals. It is specialised in dealing with consumer complaints from the sectors:

  •  e-commerce
  •  travel industry disputes
  •  motors

However, it also accepts cases against traders from other sectors.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers while traders have to pay fees.

Languages: Complaints can be filed in English, French or Spanish.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders do not have to take part in procedures before the ADR body.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: There are other (non-recognised) out-of-court dispute resolution bodies in Ireland for

In addition, complaints against airlines can be filed with the Commission for Aviation Regulation.

 

Italy

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Italy, there are different types of specialised ADR bodies.

There are joint conciliation bodies. They consist of representatives from the trader and the consumer side. Many big traders teamed up with consumer organisations to establish them. These traders come from the following sectors: internet and telecommunications, postal services, finances, energy and water supply (for example: A2A, ENEL, Edision Energy, Eni, Telecom Italia, Poste Italiane, Fastweb, H3G; Vodafone Italia, Wind Telecomunicazioni, Consorzio Netcomm (members) and Trenitalia).

Furthermore, there are ADR bodies that cover one or more sectors irrespective of the trader, i.e.

  • internet an telecommunications
  • postal services
  • finances
  • energy and water supply

Some of these ADR bodies belong to national authorities, e.g. the ADR body for the energy sector.

Finally, there are ADR bodies at the chambers of commerce in certain regions (Molise, Oristano, Cosenza and Naples).

The European Commission provides detailed information on each of all ADR bodies.

Costs: The joint conciliation bodies and the public ADR body for the energy sector work free of charge for consumers. Consumers and traders are obliged to pay fees at most of the other ADR bodies.

Languages: At the majority of ADR bodies consumers can submit their complaints in Italian and English and the proceedings are hold in these languages.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are not obliged to participate in ADR procedures except for the joint conciliation procedures.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them. Solutions proposed by joint conciliation bodies are binding for traders but not for consumers.

Specifics: If a trader does not abide by the decisions issued by the ADR body for financial services, this will be posted on the ADR body’s website.

In the sectors telecommunications, finances, insurances and energy, consumers are obliged to carry out ADR procedures before they can go to court.

 

Latvia

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Latvia, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

If none of these ADR bodies is competent for the dispute, consumers can submit their complaint to a general ADR body, the Commission for Solving the Consumer Disputes at the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (public authority).

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for traders and in most cases for consumers. Consumers have to pay a fee at the ADR bodies for financial services and insurances. The fee is refunded if complaints are at least partially successful or rejected as inadmissible.

Languages: In general, the proceedings are held in Latvian, in some cases additionally in English.

Obligatory trader participation: The participation is obligatory for traders. This means that the ADR body always proposes a solution.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. In general, solutions proposed by ADR bodies become binding on consumers and traders only if they accept them. At some ADR bodies, proposed solutions bind traders.

Specifics: ADR bodies reject complaints that are not filed within one year after the consumer unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

The Consumer Rights Protection Centre runs a list of traders which do not respect the proposals issued by the Commission of Resolving Consumer Disputes.

Lithuania

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Lithuania, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

They are all part of public authorities. If the dispute concerns other sectors, consumers can submit their complaint to the Consumer Rights Protection Authority.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge in Lithuania.

Languages: Proceedings are held in Lithuanian. If necessary, the ADR body may accept complaints submitted in other languages.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obliged to respond to consumer complaints in written form giving sufficient explanations within 14 days. If traders do not respond to complaints or not sufficiently, the Consumer Rights Protection Authority can impose fines on traders between 72 and 724 EUR.

Dispute resolution: Decisions proposed by ADR bodies are binding on consumers and traders if neither the consumer nor the trader brings actions before court within 30 days after the decision. Only solutions proposed by the ADR body for financial services are of a recommendatory nature.

Specifics: Consumers can file complaints before ADR bodies only within one year after having unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

The value of the case must exceed 10 EUR (exceptions possible).

Solutions proposed by ADR bodies are enforceable.

There is a (non-recognised) out-of-court dispute resolution body for disputes concerning lawyers at the Bar Association.

 

Liechtenstein

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Liechtenstein, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sector

Only if disputes do not fall under the scope of one of the specialised ADR bodies, consumers can file a complaint before the general ADR body (Amt für Volkswirtschaft). All ADR bodies are associated to an authority except for that in the financial sector.

Costs: ADR procedures before the general ADR body are free of charge for consumers. In general, this also applies to the ADR body for financial services. However, consumers may be required to take over some of the procedural costs, if disputes are especially complicated. Consumers are required to pay a nominal fee of ca. 43 Euro (50,00 CHF) if they want to file a complaint before the ADR body for telecommunications.

Languages: The procedural language is German. Complaints can be filed in another language before the ADR body for financial services if they are combined with a German translation. 

Obligatory trader participation: In general, traders participation in ADR is voluntary, except if they signed a participation agreement with consumers.

Binding solutions: Proposed solutions only become binding if both parties accept them.

Luxembourg

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Luxembourg, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

If none of these ADR bodies is competent to handle the dispute, consumers can submit their complaint to the National service of the Mediator of consumption.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for both consumers and traders.

Languages: In general, the proceedings are held in Luxembourgish, French and German. The ADR body for financial services and the National service of the Mediator of consumption accept complaints also in English.

Obligatory trader participation: The participation is in most cases voluntary for traders, except if they signed a participation agreement with the ADR body. In some cases, traders are obliged by law to take part in the procedure. Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Most ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not filed within one year after the consumer unsuccessfully complained to the trader. There are two other (non-recognised) out-of-court dispute resolution bodies for the sectors:

Malta

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Malta, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

The ADR body Complaints and Conciliation Directorate (public authority) covers disputes with all types of traders.

Costs: Procedures before the Complaints and Conciliation Directorate are free of charge.

Proceedings before the ADR body for the retail of goods and cars incur fees for consumers and traders. Consumers have to pay a unique fee of 35,40 EUR. In addition, consumers and traders must share the ADR body’s hourly costs of 59 EUR.

At the ADR body for financial services and insurances consumers pay a fee of 25 Euro. It is reimbursed if the parties find a dispute solution.

Languages: The proceedings are held in Maltese, Italian or English; at the ADR body for financial services and insurances only in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are not obliged to take part in ADR procedures.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals are binding on consumers and traders if they have given their consent beforehand. Otherwise, they become binding when both parties accept them afterwards.

Specifics: There are further out-of-court dispute resolution bodies which help consumers to solve disputes with traders:

Netherlands

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the Netherlands there are two specialised ADR bodies in the sectors:

In addition, there is a general ADR body covering all other sectors: De Stichting Geschillencommissie Consumentenzaken.

Complaints can only be filed before ADR bodies, if traders are associated with them. ADR bodies are run by private entities.

Costs: The general ADR body asks consumers to pay between 27,50 and 340 EUR for each proceeding. The fee depends on the subject matter.

At a first stage, the two specialised ADR bodies try to solve the dispute by contacting the trader. This service is free of charge. At a second stage, the consumer can ask the ADR bodies to decide on their complaint. This service is fee-based at the ADR body for health insurance companies and free of charge at the ADR body for financial services providers.

Irrespective of the ADR body, traders have to reimburse consumers, if they lose the case. In addition, traders are obliged to pay general membership and other fees to the ADR body.

Languages: The procedural language is Dutch. At the ADR body for financial services, consumers can submit their application also in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Members of ADR bodies are obliged to take part in the procedure.

Dispute resolution: Decisions of the general ADR body and of that for health insurance services are binding for consumers and traders. Decisions of the ADR body for financial services become binding only if both parties have agreed on the binding character of the decision before or after the procedure.

Specifics: In addition to these ADR bodies, there are further (non-recognised) out–of-court dispute resolution bodies that can help settle a dispute with a Dutch trader, for example that for disputes with pharmacies.

If an online-shop carries either the quality label of the Stichting Webshop Keurmerk or Thuiswinkel Waarborg, consumers can file a complaint free of charge before these bodies. If the complaint remains unsolved, they can still file a complaint before the general ADR body.

Norway

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There are specialised ADR bodies for the following sectors:

For all other sectors, consumers can submit their complaint to the Norwegian Consumer Council. All ADR bodies are run by private organisations. They consist of a neutral arbiter and representatives from consumer and trader organisations.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers, except for the ADR body for rented dwellings. Consumers have to pay a fee of 210 NOK (ca. 23 EUR) when starting proceedings at this ADR body.

Traders, on the contrary, pay fees at most ADR bodies.

Languages: Most ADR bodies accept complaints not only in Norwegian, but also in English and other languages. Proposals, however, are only issued in Norwegian.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders participation in ADR proceedings is voluntary. Some traders, however, may only get their licence if they commit to taking part in ADR.

Dispute resolution: Most ADR bodies propose solutions. They become binding on consumers and traders only if they accept them. The ADR body for telecommunications publishes its proposal and the trader on its website in case of non-compliance after 30 days.

Decisions of the ADR bodies for rented dwellings as well as parking tickets and towing are binding for consumers and traders.

Specifics: At most ADR bodies, complaints have to be submitted within one year after the consumer complained to the trader in written form.

Many ADR bodies publish ADR proposals on their website.

There are two further out-of-court dispute resolution bodies: the Norwegian Consumer Dispute Commission and the Complaint board for air passenger rights.

Poland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Poland, there are specialised ADR bodies for the sectors:

The Financial Regulatory Authority gives detailed information on ADR in the financial sector.

If the dispute does not fall under the jurisdiction of a specialised ADR body, consumers can turn to the Trade Inspection Authority of the region in which the trader is based.

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for traders and in most cases also for consumers.

Consumers have to pay a fee between 4 and 10 EUR (20 - 50 PLN) before the Financial Ombudsman and the Banking Ombudsman of the Polish Bank Association. Parties can be charged with additional fees, if experts need to be consulted (etc.).

Language(s): The procedural language is Polish. The ADR body for air travel holds its proceedings also in English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are not obliged to take part in ADR procedures. Only some ADR bodies can require traders to participate: the Polish Bank Association, the Financial Ombudsman and the Rail Passengers’ Right Ombudsman.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. They become binding only if consumers and traders accept them. Traders (not consumers) are bound to proposals issued by the Polish Bank Association.

Specifics: The internal regulations of each ADR body lay down the deadlines for the submission of complaints. It cannot be shorter than one year since the consumer unsuccessfully complained to the trader for the first time.

The Ombudsman of the Polish Bank Association publishes its decisions in an anonymised way.

Portugal

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Portugal, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

In addition, there are ADR bodies that cover the regions: Algarve, Braga, Coimbra, Lisbon, Madeira, Porto and Vale do Ave.

If there is no specialised or regional ADR body, consumers can file a complaint at the Centro Nacional de Informação e Arbitragem de Conflitos de Consumo.

Finally, there is another general ADR body at the University of Lisbon (Centro de Arbitragem da Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa). It covers all disputes between consumers and traders irrespective of the region.

Costs: Consumers and traders only need to pay fees at some ADR bodies: the specialised ADR bodies for cars and insurances, the regional ADR bodies in Lisbon and Porto and the general ADR body of the University of Lisbon.

Languages: In general, ADR proceedings are held in Portuguese. However, the proceedings before the general ADR body at the University of Lisbon can also be held in German, English, French and Spanish.

Obligatory trader participation: In general, traders are not obliged to take part in ADR procedures. Participation is only obligatory for suppliers of some public services (for example water, electricity and gas suppliers as well as providers of electronic communications and postal services).

Dispute resolution: Some ADR bodies offer mediation and arbitration procedures. Solutions proposed in mediation procedures become binding only if consumers and traders accept them. Decisions issued in arbitration procedures are binding for both parties and have the same effects as a judicial decision.

Specifics: ADR bodies can reject complaints, if consumers contact them later than one year after their first attempt to solve the problem with the trader.

If consumers are not satisfied with an arbitration decision, they can take recourse to the competent court of first instance.

Private investors can file complaints against Portuguese intermediaries or investment funds before the Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários. This regulatory authority provides a conflict mediation service.

Romania

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There is actually one notified ADR body in Romania, the National Authority for Consumer Protection – Directorate for Alternative Dispute Resolution. Consumers from every EU member country can appeal this ADR body, as long as the trader has his place of business in Romania.

Costs: The procedure before the National Authority for Consumer Protection is free of charge for both the consumer and the trader.

Languages: Procedural language is Romanian.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders who have their business address in Romania are not obliged to participate in ADR procedures. However, if they participate, they have to inform the consumers about this on their website. Traders must also inform consumers about the possibility of ADR procedures, if the dispute cannot be solved between the parties.

Dispute resolution: The ADR body proposes a solution. Neither party is bound by the proposal. If the trader declines the proposal, the ADR body informs the consumer about the next legal steps he may take to enforce his claim.

Specifics: The complaint must be submitted in an interval of one year from the date upon which the consumer presented the complaint to the trader or from the date of the action that resulted in the dispute. In some cases, the physical presence of the parties or of their representatives may be requested.

Beside the National Authority for Consumer Protection, there are further ADR bodies for different sectors, which are not yet notified. There are ADR bodies for

Slovakia

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Slovakia, there are specialised ADR bodies in the sectors:

In addition, there are ADR bodies which handle all kind of disputes between consumers and traders:

If several ADR bodies are competent, the consumer can choose an ADR body.

Costs: ADR bodies in Slovakia do not charge fees. Only the ADR body Ombudspot charges consumers up to 5 EUR for starting the proceedings.

Languages: Consumers can submit their complaints in Slovak or English. The Consumer Protection Society handles complaints also in German.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obliged to participate in ADR procedures.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them.

Specifics: ADR bodies can reject complaints if they are not submitted within one year after the trader rejected the consumer’s complaint or if the claim’s value is below 20 EUR.

Slovenia

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Slovenia, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

In addition, three ADR bodies do not restrict their competence to a specific sector:

Consumers can choose one of these ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for consumers. Except for the ADR for insurances, they incur fees for traders.

Languages: Except for the ADR body at the banking association, consumers can submit their complaints in Slovenian or English.

Obligatory trader participation: In the energy sector and partly in the financial sector traders are obliged to take part in ADR procedures.

Dispute resolution: Some ADR bodies offer different procedures to settle disputes. Proposed solutions in mediation procedures become binding only if consumers and traders agreed on this legal effect beforehand or accept the proposal. Decisions in arbitration procedures are always binding and enforceable.

Specifics: At the ADR body of the insurances association both parties need to be physically present.

Some ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not submitted within a deadline or if the value of the claim is below or above the threshold. For example, complaints to the ADR body of the Bank Association of Slovenia have to be submitted within 13 months after the complaint was made to the trader.

The Agency for Communication Networks and Services (regulatory authority) supports consumers in solving disputes with telecommunication and postal services providers.

Spain

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There are six alternative dispute resolution (ADR) bodies which cover several sectors:

 

 

In most cases, the ADR body at the consumer’s place of residence is competent. If there is more than one (e.g. one of the town and one of the region), the ADR body of the smaller entity is competent. Consumers and traders might also agree on an ADR body in another place.

The consumer arbitration boards first try to solve the dispute via mediation. If this is not possible, they will conduct arbitration proceedings.

The European Commission provides detailed information on all ADR bodies.

Costs: Proceedings at the Consumer arbitration boards are free of charge for both consumers and traders.

Languages: The procedural language is Spanish.

Obligatory trader participation: In most cases, traders are not obliged to participate in ADR procedures. If they signed a conciliation agreement (oferta púbica de adhesion), they have to participate in proceedings before the consumer arbitration boards.

Dispute resolution: Decisions of the consumer arbitration boards are binding for consumers and traders. They can be enforced.

Specifics: Decisions will be based on equity unless the parties opt for a decision based on the law.

If consumers turn to the wrong ADR body, it will transfer the complaint to a competent body.

Complaints have to be submitted to the consumer arbitration boards within one year after complaining to the trader.

There will soon be specialised ADR bodies for financial services and for air transport.

Sweden

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Sweden, there are specialised ADR bodies for:

All other cases fall under the scope of the National Board for Consumer Disputes (public authority).

Some specialised ADR bodies ask traders to be members (for example the Swedish Funeral Directors' Association Complaints Board). If they are not members, consumers must file a complaint before the general ADR body.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers, except for those before the ADR body for lawyers. For traders all ADR bodies work free of charge.

Languages: The procedural language is Swedish. Consumers can also file their complaint via e-mail in English. If traders agree on English as procedural language, the ADR body will handle the case in English.

Obligatory trader participation: There is no obligation for traders to take part in ADR procedures. However, the National Board for Consumer Disputes also proposes a solution to a dispute, even if the trader does not participate in the ADR procedure.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if they accept them. Only proposals of the ADR bodies for lawyers and funeral undertakers bind traders (not consumers) directly.

Specifics: Consumers can only file complaints before Swedish ADR bodies, if the Swedish law is applicable.

The National Board for Consumer Disputes only accepts a case, if its value lies between 50 and 200 EUR (500 and 2.000 SEK) dependent on the subject matter.

Complaints to the Bar Association’s ADR body must have a minimum value of 100 EUR (1.000 SEK). The claim’s value must not exceed 20.000 EUR (200.000 SEK).

Consumers must file their complaints before the National Board and the ADR body for lawyers at the latest one year after they unsuccessfully complained to the trader.

In Sweden, there are further out-of-court dispute resolution bodies, for example the Swedish Estate Agents Inspectorate. It helps to settle disputes with Real Estate Agents.

United Kingdom

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the United Kingdom, there are many specialised privately organised ADR bodies, for example for the sectors:

  • retail
  • travel
  • communication services
  • postal services
  • car purchase and repair
  • financial services
  • insurances
  • energy
  • car rental
  • gambling

Other private ADR bodies cover all sectors.

Most specialised ADR bodies only accept complaints, if traders are associated with them but not the Financial Ombudsman. This ADR body covers complaints against traders from the financial and insurance sector.

The European Commission gives an overview of all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are either free of charge for consumers or available at a nominal fee. Traders have to pay fees at most ADR bodies.

Languages: Most ADR bodies only accept complaints in English.

Obligatory trader participation: In general, traders are not obliged to take part in ADR procedures. However, obligations can stem from the law or the membership of a trade association or an ADR body. Estate agents and telecommunications businesses have to be a member of an ADR body.

Dispute resolution: ADR bodies propose solutions. These proposals become binding on consumers and traders only if both parties accept them. The Financial Ombudsman has the power to make decisions that bind the parties directly.

Specifics: Many ADR bodies handle complaints against traders outside the UK.

  • Close the article