Novelties in the alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes

resolución alternativa conflictos puñoOn November 5th, Law 7/2017, of November 2nd, came into force, by which the Directive 2013/11/EU, of the European Parliament and of the Council, of May 21st 2013, is incorporated into the Spanish legal system, on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes.

Through this minimum harmonization Directive, the European Union establishes the obligation for Member States to provide mechanisms for a quicker, more effective and cheaper extrajudicial or alternative dispute resolution for consumers residing in the European Union. This measure shall be applied through ADR entities.

ADR entities are alternative dispute resolution entities of national or cross-border litigation, between a trader and a consumer, regarding the obligations arising from a sale and purchase contract or provision of services contract. Thus, Law 7/2017 establishes the requirements, guarantees and obligations that these institutions shall meet.

The aforementioned Law is divided into three titles, three additional provisions, a sole repeal provision and eight final provisions.

The purpose of this law is to guarantee the access of consumers to ADR entities and it is regulated in the Preliminary Title. We can also find the definitions, the scope of application and exclusion and the effects of the claims dealing with these entities. With regard to the scope of exclusion of the law, we can find litigation between traders, as well as alternative resolution procedures initiated or managed by traders or those that are within the framework of a judicial proceeding.

Title I is divided into two chapters. The first one lists the requirements that ADR entities shall meet. Among these are the principles of independence, impartiality, transparency, efficiency and fairness that these entities shall respect, the voluntary participation of the parties in the procedures and the free and easy access of consumers to the aforementioned mechanisms. The second chapter establishes the procedure to be followed by ADR entities to be accredited as such. In this sense, they shall resort, in general, to the Spanish Agency for Consumption, Food Safety and Nutrition, which will later communicate to the European Commission the list of accredited ADR entities.

Title II regulates the obligations of the ADR entities, which include the duty of information and transparency or the confidentiality and protection of personal data, obligations that could lead to the exclusion of the list of accredited entities if unfulfilled, as long as they are not rectified within a period of three months since they are required to do so.

The third Title includes other provisions, which incorporate a remarkable novelty consisting of the obligation for traders to adhere to ADR entities to inform consumers of the possibility of using them.

Finally, among the additional provisions, some exceptions are included in the financial and air transport fields, since other institutions will grant accreditation to ADR entities.

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