The term ADR includes all the means of redress of resolving a complaint/dispute without going to court. Typically ADR mechanisms are usually quicker, with simplified procedures and cost less. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an ADR procedure which is conducted entirely online.
Directive 2013/11/EU on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (ADR Directive) provides the legal basis for ADR as a whole. It ensures that consumers have access to ADR for resolving their contractual disputes with traders in almost all economic sectors irrespective of where the contract was concluded. Services regarding health and higher education are excluded.
To be recognised as an ADR body, the organisation must comply with several criteria as laid down in the ADR Directive, namely:
Regulation 524/2013 on Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (ODR Regulation) provides for the Online Dispute Resolution Platform. Pursuant to Article 5 of this Regulation the European Commission developed the EU wide ODR Platform. It serves as a single point of entry for consumers and traders seeking the out-of-court resolution of disputes covered by the Regulation. The Platform links the National ADR entities notified by the Member States. The ODR Regulation applies to out-of-court resolution of disputes concerning contractual obligations stemming from online sales or services contracts between consumers and traders resident and established within the EU through the intervention of an ADR entity.
ADR Bodies in Malta
Complaints and Conciliation Directorate within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA)
This Directorate is responsible for assisting consumers with complaints following the purchase or hire of goods or services that are not in conformity with the contract of sale or service. The product has to be bought from a local trader and for personal use.
Once a complaint is lodged with the Directorate and deemed justifiable, the complaint handler will mediate between the consumer and trader involved. The aim would be to find an amicable solution between the two. This procedure has an average length of 15 working days. After that, the consumer may choose to either continue with the mediation, withdraw the case or opt to submit the claim to the Tribunal. The outcome of the procedure is binding upone agreement by one or both parties.
The entity can refuse to accept complaints if:
- The product is bought to be used for business purposes
- The product is bought from an individual
- The consumer did not attempt to contact the trader first in order to solve the complaint amicably
- The dispute is frivolous
- The complaint si being or has previously been considered by another dispute resolution body or court
The maximum amount of compensation that a consumer can ask for is €3,500. If the amount being asked for is more than this, the claim cannot be taken to the Tribunal, however, mediation can still be done.
The Complaints and Conciliation Directorate can be found at Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda.
ADR (Malta) Centre
ADR (Malta) Centre is competent for disputes initiated by consumers against traders established in either Italy or Malta.
This entity deals with cases that fall under the following sectors:
- Food: fruit, vegetables and meat
- Clothing (including tailor made goods) and footwear
- Domestic Household Appliances (including microwaves, coffee machines and vacuum cleaners)
- Electronic goods
- Leisure goods (sports equipment, musical instruments etc.)
- New and Second-hand cars
ADR (Malta) Centre can refuse to take cases where: the consumer did not attempt to contact the trader and resolve the matter amicably first, the dispute is frivoulous, the complaint is being or has previously been considered by another dispute resolution or the value of the claim is below or above the required threshold.
Once the procedure starts, the entity would require the physical presence of both parties and in some cases their representatives. The procedure has an average length of 30 days.
This entity can be found at 202/2, Vincenti Buildings, Old Bakery Street Valletta, Malta.
Office of the Arbiter for Financial Services (OAFS)
As the name itself indicates, this entity deals with complaints regarding the following financial services:
- Payment account and payment services
- Credit (excluding mortgage/home loans)
- Mortgages and home loans
- Investments, pensions and securities
- Non-life insurance: Home and property
- Non-life insurance: Transport
Like the other entities, the OAFS is competent for disputes initiated by consumers against traders establish in Malta. The procedure has an average length of 90 days and both parties (and representatives, if any) are required to be present during the conduct of the procedure. The outcome of the procedure is binding on the consumers and traders.
If the consumer does not attempt to contact the trader and settled the case amicably first or if the dispute is either frivolous or is being or has previously been considered by another dispute resolution body, the OAFS can refuse to deal with the case.
The OAFS can be found at First Floor St. Calcedonies Square, Floriana. It can be contacted either by calling on +35621249245 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org