The European Union is adopting regulations on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and online dispute resolution (ODR), according to a press release and associated documents, including a draft ODR regulation. This is aimed at consumer e-commerce in particular.
I have not yet found in the documents answers to some questions that occur to me off the cuff. (The answers may be in there somewhere – feel free to provide via comments.)
- Who pays? It appears to be taxpayer-funded, rather than relying on user fees. There is mention of a cost of 4.6 million Euros (annually?).
- What law applies? This list has previously discussed the EU work on a single sales law and a ‘blue button’ device for web users to elect a common sales law.
- What is the process? There will be coordinators and neutrals provided. Do they have a set progression from negotiation to mediation to adjudication, as the UNCITRAL ODR project has recommended? Will the mediator be barred from being the adjudicator?
- How is the result enforced? The top-level documents appear to assume that once the dispute is ‘resolved’, everybody goes along. What happens if they don’t?
A different order of question is how this may relate to the UNCITRAL project. Are the EU proposals consistent with the current direction of that work? Is it helpful to the UNCITRAL work for the EU to be voting in favour of ODR, or is it distracting from or subversive of the global thinking?