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Accredited bodies to resolve consumer disputes at domestic and EU level

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies which resolve consumer disputes in a high quality, independent, impartial, transparent, effective, fast and fair way.

There are a large number of out-of-court bodies throughout the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. By using one of these entities, consumers can access to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms where they may solve their claims related to most types of products or services, regardless of whether the purchase was made online or in person, or if it was a domestic or cross-border purchase.

All of the entities have been approved with high quality standards to ensure the equity, efficiency and accessibility of the mechanism and, although each has its own rules and procedures, they are usually faster and less expensive than going to court.

List of accredited ADR entities across the EU

Consumers residing in the European Union can ask an ADR entities for help in order to solve disputes between them and traders stablished in any Member State of the EU, Norway or Iceland concerning contractual obligations stemming from sales or services contracts and regardless of whether the purchase or the contract was done in person or online.

All ADR bodies have been accredited with high quality standards in order to guarantee consumers access to out-of-court procedures with which they can assert their rights in the field of consumption. Each of these bodies have their own rules and procedures, but all share the common objective of resolving both domestic and cross-border disputes with the same guarantees and rapidity.

Each Member State must guarantee the existence of ADR bodies in order to cover, at least, the resolution of disputes involving traders established in their territory. In the event that there was no competent accredited ADR entity established in Spain to resolve a dispute, consumer will have access to another entity from another country.

The complaints must be submitted by consumers against traders. In this sense, complaints cannot be submitted by traders.

The participation in this system is voluntary for both parties, with the exceptions provided by law. For instance, in Spain, in the financial or air transport field, participation is mandatory for financial entities and airlines. In no case, the binding decision that terminates a mandatory participation procedure shall prevent the parties from accessing to the court.

The consumer must have previously contacted with the company to try to resolve the dispute bilaterally.

The content of the claim must not be frivolous or vexatious.

The dispute must not be or has previously been considered by another ADR entity or by a court.

The claim must be founded and be related to the violation of the rights and the interests of the consumers.

The dispute must not be connected with intoxication, injury, death or with those cases where there are reasonable indications of crime, including liability for damages.

In general, claims must not be connected with non-economic services of general interest, with health services provided by health professionals to patients to assess, maintain or restore their state of health, including the prescription, dispensation and provision of medicinal products and medical devices. Likewise, claims must not be connected with public providers of further or higher education.

The litigations may not deal with intoxication, injury, death or with those cases where there are reasonable indications of crime, including liability for damages.

The deadline to submit a claim to an ADR entity must not exceed one year since the consumer submitted the complaint to the trader.

In those cases where an ADR entity rejects the claim, the consumer must be informed within a maximum period of 21 calendar days from the reception of the file.

The outcome of the ADR procedure must be made available within a period of 90 calendar days from the date on which the ADR entity has received the complete complaint file.

In cases where a dispute between a consumer and a trader established in their territory could not be settled further to a complaint submitted directly by the consumer to the trader, the traders must provide the consumer with the information about the ADR entity or ADR entities by which those traders are covered or are obliged to use to resolve the disputes with consumers. Traders must specify whether they will make use of the relevant ADR entities to settle the dispute.

When consumers have a problem with a trader established in the European Union, Iceland or Norway, they can ask the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) for personalised advice and assistance with the aim of achieving amicable outcomes. If this is not possible, the European Centres may refer the matter to another competent body, such as an ADR entity.

European legislation

  • Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC.
  • Regulation (EU) No 524/2013of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC.

Spanish legislation. Laws

  • Law 7/2017, 2 of November on the implementation of the Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 May 2013, on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes.