Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
When consumers encounter problems securing redress for unsatisfactory goods or services Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may be used to settle the dispute.
The purpose of EU legislation on ADR is to facilitate the out-of-court resolution of consumer disputes. This will enable consumers to submit their complaints, on a voluntary basis, to entities offering independent, impartial, transparent, effective, fast and fair dispute resolution procedures, without prejudice to legal action.
What is ADR?
ADR dispute resolution covers sales and service contracts only.
The ADR Directive does not apply to:
- disputes between traders
- direct negotiation between the consumer and the trader
- procedures initiated by a trader against a consumer.
The main benefits of ADR for consumers are:
- Transparency: The Irish ADR platform comes in the form of the European Consumer Centre Ireland, which maintains a list of the authorised ADR entities available in Ireland.
- Effectiveness: The ADR procedure is free of charge or available at a nominal fee and lasts up to 90 calendar days from the date on which the ADR entity has received the complaint.
- Fairness: The parties can communicate directly, are advised by the ADR entity and receive expert opinions on the nature of the complaint. opinions given by experts, even without the assistance of a solicitor.
ADR includes the following procedures via public ombudsmen, complaints boards and private entities.
- Mediation: a private and confidential dispute resolution process in which an independent third party, the mediator, seeks to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. It is a voluntary and non-binding process that may however become binding if and when a settlement is reached.
- Conciliation: similar to mediation, it is an advisory and confidential structured process in which an independent third party, called the conciliator, actively assists the parties in their attempt to reach, on a voluntary basis, a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute. A conciliator may, at any stage in the conciliation process, make a proposal to the parties to resolve the dispute, but he or she is not empowered to impose such a proposal on the parties.
- Arbitration: a means of dispute resolution whereby the disputing parties submit their dispute to a neutral third party for determination. Unlike mediation or conciliation, an independent and impartial third party is empowered to make a decision. The arbitrator hears the disagreement between one or more parties and after considering all the relevant information renders a final decision (award). Arbitration bodies typically have the power to make legally binding decisions, meaning that awards may be enforceable through the courts upon application.
Read our guide to ADR and ODR here:
The ADR Directive 2013/11/EU aims to ensure that consumers have access to ADR for resolving their contractual disputes with traders established in the European Union. Disputes covered by the Directive (only disputes regarding health and public providers of further or higher education are excluded) extend to online and offline transactions, irrespective of whether the trader is established in the consumer’s Member State or in another Member State. Each Member State is required to list all the ADR entities that meet the mandatory quality requirements set out in the Directive.
The ADR Directive was transposed in Ireland by means of the European Union (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 343/2015 and the European Union (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) (No. 2) Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 368/2015.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is designated as the competent authority in Ireland for the purposes of the ADR Directive and the enforcement of the transposing Regulations. The CCPC is responsible for the list of notified ADR entities which fulfil the relevant conditions. The CCPC is also assigned other functions, such as encouraging consumer and professional organisations to raise awareness of ADR and their procedures, and promote the use of ADR, as well as reporting to the European Commission. Under the Regulations, ECC Ireland is also tasked with the provision of information and assistance to consumers to access ADR entities operating in another Member State which are competent to deal with a consumer’s cross-border dispute.
Find out more about Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and its role on ADR here. The CCPC also keeps a list of authorised ADR entities.
When ADR is carried out online and it involves online purchases, it is called ODR: Online Dispute Resolution. Learn more about it here.
Further information on ADR can be found via the following:Return to top