On March 12, 2013, the European Parliament approved legislation that will see the
creation of an online dispute resolution platform for use in
disputes between E.U. consumers and traders originating from the
online purchase of goods and services.
Specifically, the online platform will allow a party to submit a
complaint electronically, inform the respondent party about the
complaint, and provide the parties with an electronic case
management tool. Once the parties are in agreement, the online
platform will transmit the complaint to the alternative dispute
resolution entity that the parties have agreed to use
Ultimately, the purpose of the legislation is to increase
consumer confidence and reduce existing barriers in the digital
dimension of the market by providing access to simple, efficient,
fast and low-cost methods of resolving disputes. While the
legislation aims to address the current lack of mechanisms for
dispute resolution in cross-border online transactions, it also
applies to domestic online transactions. The online platform is set
to become operational by the end of 2015.
A similar initiative was announced on May 7, 2012
in B.C. If enacted, Bill 44, the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act (the
Bill), would create a tribunal to provide online dispute resolution
services in B.C. for various small claims matters and certain real
estate matters. The current reading of the Bill provides for three
progressive stages for resolving disputes. The first stage would
involve party to party negotiations using online tools. The next
stage would involve a case manager, who would attempt to facilitate
a resolution. The final stage would be a tribunal hearing which
would result in a binding decision.
Similar to the E.U. legislation, the aim of the Bill is to
provide accessible, speedy, low-cost and informal dispute
resolution services. Whether similar initiatives will be
implemented elsewhere in Canada remains to be seen.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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