Online Dispute Resolution
If you have a dispute with a company in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU you can use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to solve your problem without having to go to court.
ADR is where an independent third party helps you to resolve an ongoing dispute with a trader using mediation, conciliation or arbitration. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an ADR process for online purchases.
The European Commission provides an ODR platform to make cross border disputes easier to solve. The ODR platform is a free online tool to allow you to make a complaint about goods or services you bought online. The aim of the tool is to make online shopping safer and fairer.
ODR is available for online purchases bought in Ireland or elsewhere in the EU but is particularly useful when you and the business are located in different countries.
You can find out more in our document on Alternative Dispute Resolution.
How do I make a complaint using ODR?
You can use the ODR platform to:
- Discuss the best solution for your consumer problem directly with a trader, or
- Agree with the trader on a dispute resolution body to handle your case
To make a complaint through the ODR platform, you must follow these steps:
- Fill in the online complaint form and submit a request to talk directly with the trader
- The platform notifies the trader of your request
- If the trader has not engaged with the process within 30 days, the case will be closed
- If the trader is willing to talk, you will be able to exchange messages directly through the ODR dashboard
- You have 90 days to reach an agreement through direct talks
If the trader does not want to resolve the problem with you directly on the platform, they can suggest a list of ADR bodies to use instead. In this case:
- You have 30 days to agree on which body to use or your case will be closed
- If you agree to one of the ADR bodies suggested by the company, you confirm this on the platform
- Your dispute will automatically be transferred to the ADR body for consideration
- The ADR body will handle the complaint online and will have 90 days to make their decision
- Either party can withdraw from the process at any time
What are companies' obligations?
In most cases, companies do not have to participate in ADR schemes. However, all companies who sells goods or services online in the EU must give consumers the following information:
- A link on their website to the ODR platform
- An email address on their website so consumers have a first point of contact for complaints
Where can I get more help?
EU Member States must have a designated body to support the ODR platform. The designated body is the national contact point to help you use the ODR platform. In Ireland the contact point for the ODR is the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland.
ECC Ireland can:
- Give you support on how to use the ODR tool (website)
- Help facilitate communication between you, the trader and the ADR body
- Give you advice about other options to solve your problem, for example the European Small Claims Procedure.
The requirements in this area are set out in the European Union (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015.
ECC Ireland has more information about online dispute resolution. You can also download a guide to the EU online dispute resolution (ODR) platform (pdf).