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Enforcing EU Consumer Policy Through Different Layers: Combining the Judicial and the Out-of-Court Mechanisms

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Abstract

This paper will analyse the new EU legal framework for enforcing consumer law through various layers: public enforcement bodies, judicial mechanisms and out-of-court redress schemes. Accordingly, it will depart from a brief examination of the changes in the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation, it will then analyse the judicial options offered by small claims processes and collective redress, and lastly it will examine the new framework on out-of-court redress and the impact that it will have on three radically different redress cultures: Italy, Spain and the UK. The paper concludes arguing that the growth of out-of-court mechanisms to facilitate compliance with consumer law poses new challenges and opportunities in ensuring an adequate enforcement of EU consumer law.

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Cílem článku je představit mimosoudního řešení spotřebitelských sporů online v právu Evropské unie s využitím ODR (online dispute resolution) a zhodnotit jeho dopady na českou právní úpravu. Daný způsob řešení sporů by měl poskytovat jednoduché, efektivní, rychlé a levné mimosoudní řešení sporů v souvislosti s online transakcemi. Účelem tohoto článku je detailněji prezentovat evropský právní režim a zabývat se jeho jednotlivými fázemi. V druhé části pak budou posouzeny konkrétní dopady představeného právního režimu na českou právní úpravu. V rámci celého článku budou prezentována jednotlivá úskalí, která nepřispívají k celkové efektivitě a využitelnosti prezentovaného právního rámce.
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Traditional judicial mechanisms did not offer an adequate solution for cross-border electronic commerce disputes.1 Although there has been expected great potential in solving disputes online and the rise of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) use, the assumptions has not been confirmed yet. Only a few examples demonstrate the success stories of ODR, which is in big contrast to the continuous growth of electronic transactions and in general with the use of the online environment. The European Commission however understood the potential of ODR and it is trying to foster the use of it by adopting the ODR Regulation and the ADR Directive.2 Such legal framework has been developed to apply in consumer disputes arising out of sales or providing services between an EU consumer and an EU trader. The ADR Directive sets out basic standards of ADR entities and processual rules under which it is possible to solve the dispute. Then under the ODR Regulation the complainant will be able to submit a complaint using the ODR platform. The complaint (and any related documentation) will be submitted to the ODR platform via an electronic form. Yet it is necessary to assess the risks of above mentioned legal framework. One of the great concerns are connected with possible forum shopping while providers are registering as ADR entities. Experienced trader (unlike the consumer) is able to choose ADR provider, which is more likely to decide in his favour. Possible exclusion of online negotiation or even online tools in general is then further underlining possible concerns. The paper will thus assess main legal aspects of ADR/ODR legal framework of European Union Law and it will deal with main problematic parts of it.
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