The report summarizes the findings of an Oxford research project and an international conference which assessed alternative methods for settling consumer disputes that do not involve the courts. The report comes in response to the finding that many governments are interested in ADR as an alternative to courts to improve access to justice, overcome problems of costs and funding for court mechanisms, and help maintain competitive markets.
The report assesses the existing dispute resolution models used across Europe, and makes recommendations that helped inform the emerging policy across the EU. Recommendations include measures:
to improve transparency and timeliness of dispute resolution
to increase awareness of the alternative mechanisms available for both consumers and traders
to consolidate the range of existing initiatives across Europe
to improve the scope, quality, and reliability of ADR, particularly for cross-border and online transactions
The research was undertaken by the CMS Research Programme on Civil Justice Systems at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford, the findings of which were presented at a conference held in Oxford on 28 October for over 70 delegates from around Europe, including representatives from the European Commission, four governments, ombudsmen, and consumer and business organisations.