Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an out of court mechanism for the settlement of disputes with the assistance of an impartial dispute resolution body. The use of ADR for the settlement of consumer disputes is easier, faster and less expensive than going to court.
Across the EU redress through ADR is provided through a number of Alternative Dispute Resolution entities. These entities handle consumer complaints in specific market sectors. They provide the specialised support and assistance consumers need to effectively resolve disputes with traders or service providers without the need to take their cases to court. ADR may be used for both domestic and cross-border disputes with regards to the contractual obligations of consumers and traders resulting from sales contracts or service contracts. The main function of the ADR entity is to bring the conflicting parties together with the aim of facilitating an amicable solution.
In Malta, the Complaints and Conciliation Directorate (CCD) within the Office for Consumer Affairs handles complaints and acts as the residual ADR entity in cases where there are no sector specific ADR entities. This ensures that consumers have full ADR coverage and thus access to out-of-court settlement, regardless the nature of their purchase and regardless from where the purchase was made.
As an ADR entity, the CCD addresses both domestic and cross-border disputes concerning contractual obligations resulting from sales contracts or service contracts between a trader established in the European Union and a consumer resident in the EU. The Directorate intervenes to bring the parties together with the aim of facilitating or proposing a solution.
For a case to be submitted to the ADR procedure both parties have to agree to settle their dispute through ADR and the outcome of the procedure is binding upon agreement by the parties.
Further information about the MCCAA Alternative Dispute Resolution System can be found through this Guide.
Online Dispute Resolution
In order to facilitate the ADR process, the European Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform links all National ADR entities registered across the EU. Consumers will be able to send their complaint directly to the trader via the ODR platform and reach an agreement on the ADR entity that will handle the dispute.
This platform is available in all the official languages of the EU and it serves as a single point of entry for consumers and traders seeking to settle disputes emerging from online transactions irrespective of where the contract was concluded. There is a contact point in every Member State to provide support to the users of the Platform and to assist in the submission of the complaints through the Platform. The European Consumer Centre Malta is the designated contact point in Malta.