Online dispute resolution is a relatively new concept that has become official legislation and a legal requirement in EU member states as of January 2016. This means that many disputes with online businesses can now and must be filed online using an online dispute resolution platform.
Consumers, if they have a problem with their online purchase, can file the dispute online and proceed with various procedures such as arbitration, mediation and more. In fact, online businesses are now legally required to link to the ODR platform of the European Commission.
However, this is a concept that may seem a little foreign to many so in this post we’re going to unravel the mystery of online dispute resolution and tell you what you need to know.
It Doesn’t Prevent You From Filing A Lawsuit
Just because you have tried online dispute resolution doesn’t mean you can’t file a lawsuit later on. While it’s ideal to try and resolve any issues outside of the courts for both parties, sometimes differences cannot be reconciled. If this happens to you and you have already filed an online dispute resolution claim, then know that filing a lawsuit later on is always an option.
You can even still use online dispute resolution after filing a lawsuit against someone. Who knows, there is always the possibility that the dispute can be resolved outside of court, which is favourable for both parties.
You Can Participate Without A Lawyer
The beauty for many people is that they can use online dispute resolution without the need of a lawyer. For many, this is easier and more convenient. It makes them feel like the process is not as messy and complicated, which is favourable for many consumers and even online businesses.
The flipside of this is that you don’t need a lawyer as long as it’s a non-binding online dispute resolution. In the case where it becomes a binding process, it may be wise to get a lawyer for the dispute. Also, it does vary based on each individual dispute resolution case as individual circumstances vary.
As a general rule, however, a lawyer isn’t needed for most cases.
Offers Many Advantages
Online dispute resolution offers many advantages including:
- It’s cheaper – Far cheaper than going to court and most cases no lawyer is even required
- It’s fast – Consumers and businesses want to resolve disputes quickly and online dispute resolution allows them to do that using methods like arbitration, mediation and more
- More say and better control – Both parties can have a greater say and involvement in the process compared to if it was a court case
- File disputes from anywhere – Online dispute resolutions are not restricted by geographic location; therefore there is a lot more flexibility and options for consumers that want to make a claim
So if you want a way to resolve disputes quickly and efficiently without the need for a lawyer, this is perfect in many cases.
You Can Use Arbitration, Mediation, And Other Conflict Resolution Procedures
Just because it’s online doesn’t mean the typical dispute and conflict resolution processes are not available to you. You can use arbitration, mediation, ombudsman and others just like you would if you were filing a dispute offline.
The process that generally follows is that once the consumer has filed the dispute, the business has 10 days to provide the consumer with an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider. Once the consumer accepts the proposed ADR,it is then able to use methods such as arbitration, conciliation, mediation and more.
Then both the consumer and business have 90 days to resolve the dispute.
Any Consumer Can Use It To Make A Complaint Against An Online Business
Any consumers can use this platform as long as they made a purchase with the business in question. If you have purchased a product that you feel is not in the condition you expected, is faulty, doesn’t perform to expectation, etc, then you’re well within your rights to file a dispute.
In fact, all consumers must be made aware of this option and their own rights as a consumer by the business. According to the legislation, businesses must state on their websites that consumers can file disputes online now and explain their rights as a consumer.
The legislation enforced for online businesses has signalled a few changes for both businesses and consumers regarding how they handle disputes. It should be seen as something advantageous to both parties.
Like anything new, there are going to be questions asked and answers required so hopefully we’ve helped make things a little clearer for you regarding online dispute resolution.
If you’d like some advice on any legal issues, especially as they relate to this area of dispute resolution then get in touch with one of our legal experts today.