Dispute Resolution Platform

As a follow-up to the article on ‘Eligible Complainants’ in Regulatory Roundup 72, the FCA has published a reminder to firms of the Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) platform that the European Commission will make available on its website from 15 February 2016.

The changes which brought about the ‘consumer’ requirement in the definition of eligible complainants arose as a result of implementation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive – see Regulatory Roundup 65 for further information.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published “Guidance for Business”.

Although the Financial Ombudsman Service is an approved alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) provider, Chapter 4 (19) advises us:

“From 15 February 2016 all online traders and online marketplaces, must include a link on their website to the ODR platform, irrespective of whether you currently market your products or services to consumers in other member states. For those committed to an ADR scheme, this will be in addition to giving details, on your website, of the certified ADR provider serving your sector”.

Note that the key here is “online” and businesses that ‘sell’ their services or products via a website and so it may well be that most, but not all, financial services firms will not have to comply with the Regulations. As well as ‘online traders’ and ‘online marketplaces’, the FAQs also refer to the link to the ODR platform being required by “traders entering into contracts by other electronic means”.

For the avoidance of doubt, there is no obligation to create a website specifically to carry a link to the ODR platform.