Principles of ADR Schemes

The right to access to quality out-of-court bodies, called “ADR entities”, is ensured by the new European legislation on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution.

ADR in Europe

  • The directive 2013/11/UE on consumer ADR requires all EU Member States to ensure that consumer complaints against EU traders can be submitted to ADR entities that comply with specified binding quality requirements (inter alia, expertise, independence and impartiality, transparency, effectiveness, and fairness). The Directive also stipulates that consumer ADR procedures should be free of charge or available at a nominal fee for consumers. The Directive requires Member States to ensure such access to ADR for (domestic or cross-border) contractual disputes between EU-resident consumers and EU-established traders in virtually all retail sectors.
  • Under the regulation 524/2013 on consumer ODR, a European Online Dispute Resolution platform (ODR platform) established by the European Commission has been opened to consumers on 15th February 2016. The ODR platform specifically deals with contractual disputes arising from online sales and service contracts. It will allow EU consumers to submit – in one of the official EU languages – complaints against European online traders online. The parties and the competent ADR entity will be able to conduct the dispute resolution procedure online on the platform’s website. Under the Directive, Member States are required to establish national lists of ADR entities. Only out-of-court bodies whose compliance with the Directive’s quality requirements has been checked can be included. The European Commission has published the lists of ADR entities on its website.
  • Already previously the EU issued recommendations on the principles applicable to the bodies responsible for out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes (recommendations 98/257/CE and communication 2001/161).

ADR schemes in France

The directive 2013/11/UE on consumer ADR was transposed into the French law in 2015, by 3 texts (ordonnance n° 2015-1033décret n°2015-1382 du 30 octobre 2015 and décret n°2015-1607 du 7 décembre 2015).

An ADR evaluation committee is in charge of notifying to the European Commission the French ADR bodies in conformity with the requirements of the directive. More information on the evaluation committee and French ADR bodies can be found on the French website for mediation in the consumption sector.

Note: In France, ADR schemes may be public or private initiatives, set up by law or unilaterally by the business side.

A few examples of ADR schemes in France:

  • Banking, energy, postal services: the law sets up the ADR or imposes the creation of an ADR scheme but the ADR is set up and paid by the business;
  • Travel, telecommunication, insurance, doorstep selling: companies or federations have decided to set up a common ADR;
  • Some ADRs are the result of negotiations and cooperation protocols with consumer associations e.g. SNCF or La Poste.

The list of notified French ADRs is published on the website for mediation in the consumption sector.

As the evaluation process is ongoing, changes to this list may occur regularly. Therefore please always check again the list on the European Commission’s Website if you wish to use the ODR-platform.

Case referral to an ADR

Here you will find practical tips and useful links for a successful ADR procedure.

First step : contact the trader

Before referring to an ADR scheme, contact the trader to try to solve your complaint directly. Make at least one attempt in writing (registered letter, email or fax) mentioning clearly the facts and what you expect. Keep a copy of your letter and the proof of sending it. This will allow you to compile a file with the necessary documents in case you need to consider other actions.

Good to know

Certain French traders impose an internal escalation process in two levels. Only when you have tried both, you may be able to start an ADR procedure.

  • The local agency or the customer service (“service client”)
  • If the case was not solved at the first level, the consumer service (“service consommateurs”)

The trader has to provide you with the contact details of both. And if no solution could be found, the contact details of the ADR must be given to you.

Always keep a copy of your correspondences and the documents exchanged (invoice, proof of payment, confirmation of order, correspondences). Even if the trader offers a satisfactory solution to your claim, keep the documents for a while.

You need advice or assistance? Consumer protection bodies are here for you

Do not hesitate to contact for example a consumer association if you need advice or assistance with your claim. If your complaint concerns a trader based in another Member State of the European Union, Iceland or Norway, contact the European Consumer Center of your residence country for first line advice and, if necessary, an assistance to find an amicable solution.

No solution with the trader could be found? Contact the competent ADR body

  • Check the scope of the ADR body

Usually the ADR scheme indicates on the website the cases they are competent for. If in doubt contact them.

  • Check the competent ADR

If you entrusted your European Consumer Center (ECC) with your case, the ECC-Net will be able to inform you on the competent ADR in the trader’s country and its procedural rules (duration of the procedure, necessary documentation, etc). It can also assist you in refering your file to this ADR.

To find a competent ADR scheme and if your dispute concerns a purchase of goods or services made on-line, you may use the European Online Dispute Resolution platform (ODR platform) established by the European Commission.

If your claim concerns a national dispute i.e. you and the trader are based in the same country, namely France, you may find the list of notified ADR bodies on the dedicated website of the ADR evaluation committee (only available in French). More information on the evaluation committee and French ADR bodies can be found on the French website for mediation in the consumption sector. ECC France included in its list other dispute resolution bodies that may be of help to you.

Good to know: In France, the law imposes on the traders an obligation to indicate on their website and contractual documents the details of the competent ADR body. Do not hesitate to ask the trader for these details.

Compile your file:

You should be clear and precise. A well prepared file helps a quicker and more efficient case handling! To be complete, your file should contain: 

  • Your exact contact details
  • Your client number, invoice or file reference, if applicable
  • The name and details of the trader
  • An precise but concise case description with the main details (dates, contacts, important information)
  • Your expectations or the solution you are aiming for
  • The necessary documents to support your claim (copy of the confirmation order, invoices, proofs of payment, …),
  • Your correspondences with the trader or the customer/consumer service.