What are ‘ADR’ and ‘ODR’?

ADR stands for Alternative Dispute Resolution – that is, a means of solving your problem without having to go to court. ADR schemes or ‘out-of-court mechanisms’ help consumers who have been unable to resolve their dispute by liaising directly with the trader. ADR schemes usually involve a third party such as an arbitrator, mediator or an ombudsman, whose job it is to assist the disputing parties in reaching a resolution.

Certain out-of-court mechanisms operate fully online and are thus referred to as Online Dispute Resolution entities (ODR). These can help resolve disputes over online purchases, where the consumer and trader are located far apart.

ADR and ODR are usually low-cost, simple and quick procedures and are therefore beneficial to both consumers and traders, who can avoid court costs and procedures.


How can I find out more about European ADR schemes?

The European Commission website has a useful tool which helps you to locate ADR schemes in your chosen country. These schemes meet the Commission’s quality criteria. The tool can be accessed here.