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 : Sep 2019

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.

Special feature air travel: Consumers may also submit a complaint against an airline to an ADR body in Germany even if the airline is not based in Germany. It is essential that the journey is related to Germany.

National Enforcement Bodies ensure that passengers’ rights are applied by the transport operators.

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 following sectors:

If there is no specialised ADR body, consumers can submit their complaint to the general ADR body or to the Internet Ombudsman (for an E-commerce-dispute).

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, the proceedings may also take place in English.

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

Specifics: Most ADR bodies reject complaints if consumers do not submit them within one year after they filed a complaint with the trader and did not reach a solution.

Belgium

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Belgium, there are specialised ADR bodies for the following 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 that relates to it.

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

Outcome: Only decisions made by the ADR body for the travel sector are binding on consumers and traders. All other ADR bodies propose solutions that 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, there is the ombudsman for rail passengers.

Bulgaria

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

In addition, 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 affiliated 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.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them.

Specifics: ADR bodies reject complaints if consumers do not submit them within one year after they initially filed a complaint with the trader and did not reach a solution.

 

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 online complaint form.

 

 

 

 

Croatia

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

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

Consumers can only file complaints before the Chamber of Trades and Crafts, the Chamber of Economy and the Mediation Centre at Croation Employers' Association, if the trader is associated with them. Furthermore, the parties have to be physically present for proceedings before the Courts of Honour.

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.

Outcome: Decisions of the Courts of Honour are binding on consumers and traders, but they only impose sanctions on the trader and do not oblige them to reimburse the consumer. Most other ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding if both parties accept them.

Specifics: In cases concerning a company providing a public service (e.g. electricity, water supply, garbage disposal) the company is obligated to have an advisory board for consumers (Povjerenstvo za reklamacije). We recommend contacting this board specifically when complaining to the company.

Most ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not filed within one year after the consumer first filed a written complaint with the trader without success.

 

 

Cyprus

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There are two specialised ADR bodies in Cyprus, the Office of the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation (authority) and the Technical Chamber of Cyprus. The first one is competent for all disputes regarding electronic communications, postal services, internet and television, the second one for all areas of engineering science (technology, constructions, energy, telecommunication, transportation, real estate, cost valuations etc).

In addition, there are two ADR bodies competent for disputes from many different sectors, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law, Alternative and Innovative Methods (ICLAIM) and the Cyprus Consumer Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Costs: Procedures at the Office of the Commissioner are free of charge for both consumers and traders. The Technical Chamber incurs costs for both parties, the amount depends on the value in dispute. For consumer it is a minimum of 20 EUR, maximum 20% of overall mediation costs.

Consumers have to pay a registration fee of 10 EUR when submitting a complaint to ICLAIM and further fees depending on the procedure chosen and the value of the claim. For conciliation proceedings, there is an additional fee of 25 to 1,000 EUR for arbitration proceedings of 50 to 2,000 EUR

The fee for traders for conciliation proceedings varies from 75 to 3,000 EUR, and for arbitration proceedings from 150 to 6,000 EUR.

At the Cyprus Consumer Center for ADR the administration fee is 20 EUR and the arbitration fee between 20 and 800 EUR. For companies the costs are between 80 and 5,120 EUR.

Languages: Proceedings are held in Greek. ICLAIM and the Cyprus Consumer Center for ADR and the Technical Chamber also offer them in English.

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

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

Czech Republic

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the Czech Republic, there are specialised ADR bodies for the following 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, either 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. There is one exception:  consumers have to pay a fee at the ADR body for telecommunications.

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.

Outcome: 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 initially filed a complaint with the trader and were not able to reach a solution.

 

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 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) whereas traders are exempted from any 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 will propose a solution, even if traders do not give a statement.

Outcome: 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 the following sectors:

All other disputes fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Disputes Committee, an independent unit  belonging to the Ministry of Economics.

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for consumers and usually also 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. 

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them. If traders do not accept or comply with the solutions proposed by the Consumer Disputes Committee, they are added to a list published online.

Specifics: Procedures before the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Estonia, the ADR body and 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 the following sectors:

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 participate in an ADR procedure.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Certain deadlines exist for filing a complaint a complaint. For example, the ADR body for financial services and insurances rejects complaints filed later than two years after the last contact between the consumer and 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 covers some financial services like financial product marketing and asset management.

Several companies - including such from the public transport, post, finance and electricity sector- run their own ADR bodies.

In addition, many business associations run ADR bodies which cover companies affiliated with them.

Finally, there are ADR bodies independent of business associations and businesses.

Consumers must first contact the trader's customer service to solve their complaint. If they are unsuccessful, consumers can turn to an ADR body.

The French government has made available an overview of all ADR bodies and a list of them categorised in 18 different economic sectors.

Costs: ADR procedures are free of charge for consumers, but often not for traders. ADR bodies run by business associations often charge companies membership fees. However, 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: Traders have to be affiliated with an ADR body and inform consumer of this body on their website and in their Terms and Conditions. The DGCCRF (competent authority) can fine a trader if he does not comply with these obligations. Consumers who do not find an ADR body can turn to this authority (contact information is available in the last box at the bottom right of the authority's website).

Outcome: 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 filed a complaint with the trader.

 

 

Germany

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

If no specialised ADR body is available to handle the complaint, consumers can turn toone of the General Consumer Conciliation Bodies.

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.

Outcome: 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, there are three general ADR bodies which accept all typesof 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 participate in ADR procedures.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Consumers must file their complaint within one year after they unsuccessfully filed a complaint with 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 a part of the Hungarian Central Bank.

For all other disputes, consumers can turn to regional arbitration boards, there is one in Budapest and 19 in the 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 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. At minimum, they have to give a written statement. Otherwise they can be fined. Irrespective of the trader’s participation, the ADR body will issue a recommendation.

Outcome: 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 have the possibility to declare both before and during the procedure that they will accept the decision.

In all other cases, arbitration boards only propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders 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 by another party.

 

 

Ireland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Ireland, there are three specialized ADR bodies who covers the following sectors:

The fourth ADR body, NetNeutrals, 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, but traders have to pay fees.

Languages: Complaints can be filed in English. In addition to that, complaints with “NetNeutrals” can be filed in French, Spanish or German.

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

Outcome: 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 car rental disputes.

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

Italy

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: ADR bodies in Italy are run by private entities and regional Chambers of Commerce. In Italy, there are different types of specialised ADR bodies.

First, there are joint conciliation bodies. These 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: railway (Trenitalia), internet and telecommunication (Telecom Italia, Poste Italiane, Tim Telecom, Fastweb, Vodafone Italia, Wind Tre and the Consorzio Netcomm – its members), post (Poste Italiane), finance (Poste Italiane) and the sectors energy, gas and water (Acea, A2A, Eon, Enel, Edison Energia, Eni und Iren).

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

  • Communication (telephone, internet and postal services)
  • Electricity, water and gas
  • Finances
  • Online-trade

The Chambers of Commerce in certain regions are the regional ADR bodies (Bolzano, Molise, Oristano, Cosenza, Naples, Caserta, Lucca, Piacenza, Vibo di Valentia). The ADR body can handle complaints if the trader or the consumer resides in the region.

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

Costs: The joint conciliation bodies work free of charge for consumers. At most of the other ADR bodies, though, consumers and traders are required to pay fees.

At the ADR bodies run by regional Chambers of Commerce, consumers need to pay between 30 and 60 EUR. Traders pay higher fees depending on the value of the dispute.

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

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

Outcome: ADR bodies offer different types of procedures. Mediation procedures are always terminated by a proposal that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them. On the contrary, arbitration procedures end with binding decisions.

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 communication (telephone, internet and postal services), paid TV, electricity, gas, water, finances and insurance sectors, consumers are required to carry out ADR procedures before they can go to court.

At most ADR bodies run by the regional Chambers of Commerce, the parties are required to be physically present.

Latvia

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Latvia, there are specialised ADR bodies for the following 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 are only required to pay a fee at the ADR bodies for financial services and insurances. However, the fee can be refunded if complaints are at least partially successful or rejected as inadmissible.

Languages: In general, the proceedings are held in Latvian,. In some cases they can also be heldin English.

Obligatory trader participation: Traders are obligated to participate. As a result, the ADR body always proposes a solution.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that in  general, only become binding on consumers and traders if they accept them. At some ADR bodies, the solutions proposed are only binding for traders.

Specifics: ADR bodies reject complaints that are not filed within one year after the consumer unsuccessfully filed a complaint with the trader.

The Consumer Rights Protection Centre runs a list of traders who 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 following 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 providing sufficient explanations within 14 days. If traders do not respond to complaints or do not respond in a sufficient manner, the Consumer Rights Protection Authority can impose fines on them of between 72 and 724 EUR.

Outcome: 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 is made. The only instances where decisions taken by the ADR body are non-binding are recommendations made to financial services.

Specifics: Consumers can file complaints before ADR bodies only within one year after having unsuccessfully filed a complaint with 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 following sectors:

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 the one in the financial sector.

Costs: Consumers are required to pay a nominal fee of ca. 43 EUR (50 CHF) if they want to file a complaint.  However, consumers may be required at the ADR body for financial services and insurances to take over some of the procedural costs, if disputes are especially complicated. For traders, procedures are free of costs.

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.

Outcome: 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, one of the ADR for insurances and the National service of the Mediator of consumption also accept complaints in English.

Obligatory trader participation: In most cases participation is  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.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding for consumers and traders if both parties accept them.

Specifics: Most ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not filed within one year after the consumer unsuccessfully filed a complaint with the trader.

There are two other out-of-court dispute resolution bodies for the following 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. As a residual ADR body, it is always competent when no specialized ADR body is available.

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 both consumers and traders. Consumers have to pay a one-timefee 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. However, it is reimbursed if the parties find a solution to the dispute.

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

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

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become 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 solve disputes with traders:

Netherlands

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the Netherlands there are three specialised ADR bodies for the following 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 requires consumers to pay between 27,50 and 340 EUR for each proceeding. The fee depends on the subject matter.

At a first step, the ADR bodies for financial services and health insurance try to solve the dispute by contacting the trader. This first step service is free. Afterwards, the consumer can ask the ADR bodies to make a decision regarding their complaint. For this second step, consumers must pay before the ADR body for health insurance companies, but before the ADR body for financial services providers it is free of charge.

Procedures before the ADR body for housing rental contracts cost both parties - the landlords and the tenants - 25 EUR.

Irrespective of the ADR body, traders have to reimburse consumers if they lose the case. In addition, traders are required 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 also submit their application in English.

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

Outcome: Decisions made by the general ADR body, the ADR body for health insurance services, and the ADR body for housing rental contracts are binding for consumers and traders. If a party does not want to accept the decision, it must take the case to court immediately.

Decisions taken by the ADR body for financial services becom binding only if both parties have agreed that it would be binding, either 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 ther is one 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, which tries to solve the dispute by mediation. If this is not possible, the complaint can be transferred to the Norwegian Consumer Dispute Commission. All ADR bodies are run by private organisations and 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.

On the contrary, traders must pay fees at most ADR bodies.

Languages: Most ADR bodies accept complaints in Norwegian, English, and other languages. Proposals, however, are only issued in Norwegian.

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

Outcome: Most ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders 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 made by 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 filed a written complaint with the trader.

Many ADR bodies publish ADR proposals on their website.

Poland

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In Poland, there are specialised ADR bodies for the following 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: Most ADR procedures provide their services free of charge to consumers and traders.

At the ADR body for online-trade consumers pay a fee of 5 EUR (20 PLN) and traders of approximately 110 EUR (460 PLN). 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 obligated 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.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if they 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 following regions: Algarve, Braga, Coimbra, Lisbon, Madeira (Behörde), 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 can manage any dispute between consumers and traders irrespective of the region.

Costs: Consumers and traders only need to pay fees at some ADR bodies, including 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 certain public services suppliers (for example water, electricity and gas suppliers as well as providers of electronic communications and postal services).

Outcome: 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, however, are binding for both parties and have the same effects as a judicial decision.

Specifics: ADR bodies can reject complaints, if consumers contact them more 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 (authority). This regulatory authority provides a conflict mediation service.

 

 

Romania

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: There is one recognized 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, the sole condition being that the trader is located in Romania.

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

Languages: The 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, in case where the dispute cannot be solved between the parties.

Outcome: 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 within one year from the date when the consumer first filed a complaint with 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, but which are not yet recognized. There are ADR bodies for:

Slovakia

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

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

If several ADR bodies are competent, the consumer is free to choose one.

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

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

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

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if both parties accept them.

Specifics: ADR bodies can reject complaints if they are not submitted within one year after the trader initially 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, there are eight ADR bodies which are not restricted to a specific sector:

 

The European Commission provides a list with all ADR bodies from which onsumers can choose.

Costs: ADR procedures are always free of charge for consumers. Treders are required to pay before all ADR bodies except the ADR body for insurances.

Languages: Most ADR bodies accept applications in Slovenian or English.

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

Outcome: 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 are enforceable.

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

Some ADR bodies reject complaints if they are not submitted within a certain 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 Sloveniahttp://www.zbs-giz.si/zdruzenje-bank.asp?StructureId=1283 have to be submitted within 13 months after the complaint was first 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: In Spain there is one specialised ADR body on e-commerce and multiple general ADR bodies:

E-commerce: In regards to e-commerce there is the non-profit organisation Confianza Online. If you bought something online from a Spanish company, you can contact this institution. The company does not need to be affiliated with them. If it is, it is however obligated to take part in the mediation procedure.

Private general ADR body: In all consumer disputes, consumers can contact Mediation Quality. In order to do that, the company does not have to be affiliated with them.

Public general ADR body: There are ten different public ADR bodies covering different regions of Spain. You can find the respective authority for the different regions on the ODR platform of the EU Commission.

There are nine regional bodies and one national body. Parties can agree on the competent body in their contract. If there is no such agreement in the contract, it depends on whether the company is enrolled in a public ADR bodies or not (look for this symbol on the trader’s website). If the complaint is filed at the wrong authority, they will forward it to the competent one. It is possible to file a mediation request in any constellation. If the trader is not enrolled in any public ADR body, they will set him a time limit of 15 days to either accept or decline a mediation procedure.

The ADR bodies first try to solve the dispute via mediation. If this is not possible, they will conduct arbitration proceedings. The ADR body will base its decision on legal, ethical and criteria of fairness, unless the parties specifically ask for a decision based purely on law.

Costs:  In Spain, mediation procedures are always free of charge for consumers. At Confianza Online and Mediation Quality the companies are required to pay a fee.

Languages: The procedural language is Spanish. At Confianza Online there is the possibility to have a procedure in English, at Mediation Quality it is also possible in English, French and Catalan.

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

Outcome: Decisions of private ADR bodies are not binding for neither party. Decisions of the public consumer arbitration boards are binding for consumers and traders. They can be enforced.

Specifics: The complaints have to be submitted to any Spanish ADR body within one year after initially filing a complaint with 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 are free of charge.

Languages: The procedural language is Swedish. Consumers can also file their complaint via e-mail in English. In addition, 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 will nevertheless propose a solution to a dispute with a Swedish trader, even if the trader does not participate in the ADR procedure.

Outcome: ADR bodies propose solutions that only become binding on consumers and traders if they accept them. Only proposals of the ADR bodies for lawyers and funeral undertakers are directly binding to traders but not consumers.

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). The minimum value depends 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 filed a complaint with the trader.

In Sweden, there are further out-of-court dispute resolution bodies; for example the Swedish Estate Agents Inspectorate. It exercises supervision of the registered estate agents, but it does not help to settle disputes. However, consumers can submit a complaint against an estate agent who has acted incorrectly.

United Kingdom

Alternative dispute resolution bodies: In the United Kingdom, there are many specialised ADR bodies in regulated areas. If there is more than one ADR body in one area, an overview can be found on the authority’s website:

In addition, there are many ADR bodies in non-regulated areas. Some of them have restricted their scope, e.g. to car rental. Others accept all kind of complaints. The competent authority for these ADR bodies is the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Most ADR bodies only accept complaints; if traders are member of that body. In some areas, e.g. telecommunications and estate agents, traders have to become members of an ADR scheme.

The European Commission provides an overview of all ADR bodies.

Costs: ADR procedures are either free of charge for consumers or available for a small 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.

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

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

 

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