Online Traders: New Obligation in EU for Provision of Connect to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform
On The month of january 19, 2016 the Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes joined into pressure (henceforth “Regulation”). The purpose of the Regulation is to supply a European online dispute resolution platform (henceforth “ODR Platform”) to attain a completely independent, impartial, transparent, effective, fast and fair, out-of-court resolution of disputes between consumers an internet-based traders (Art. 1 Regulation). The Regulation supplements the Directive 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes.
The ODR Platform is to establish and maintained through the European Commission. To be able to allow customers to file a complaint, online traders must offer an electronic connect to the ODR Platform. The duty joined into pressure on The month of january 19, 2016, and also the ODR Platform premiered on Feb 15, 2016. 
Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution
The Regulation is directly relevant and valid within the entire Union because it entered pressure on The month of january 19, 2016. The regulation claims that the ecu Commission develops and operates the ODR Platform (Art. 5 Regulation). The particular functions from the platform along with the entire process for form filing and processing a complaint to the resolution will also be put down within the Regulation (Art. 5 No. 4 and Art. 7-10 Regulation).
Underneath the heading “Consumer Information” in Article 14 the duty to supply a digital link online towards the ODR platform is placed out. The obligations cover:
- Traders established in the Union engaging in online sales or service contracts, and online market places established in the Union (para 1). They must make the link easily accessible and include their own e-mail addresses.
- Traders established in the Union engaging in online sales or service contracts, who are committed or obliged to use one or more alternative dispute resolution entities (“ADR entities”) according to Art. 4(1) point h Directive 2013/11/EU (para 2). If an offer is made by e-mail, then the link to the ODR Platform must also be included in the e-mail. Where applicable, the information must comply with the general terms and conditions for online sales and service contracts.
For traders (para 1 and para 2), the hyperlink should be readily available, but there aren’t any precise needs regarding keeping the hyperlink online. The word “readily availableInch ought to be construed in uniform manner through the EU meaning ultimately the ECJ needs to provide some guidance in this way.
In Germany, online traders fairly unwilling to comply by putting a hyperlink towards the ODR Platform on their own websites. Yet a current judgement through the district court of Bochum will probably change that. The district court of Bochum has ruled that the online trader who not give a connect to the ODR Platform infringes on Unfair Competition Law and it is prohibited from further buying and selling online.
The Decision by the District Court of Bochum
Within the judgment through the district court of Bochum, a web-based trader for watches (applicant) requested an initial injunction through the court against another online trader of watches (defendant) who didn’t incorporate a connect to the ODR Platform. The preliminary injunction was granted.
A legal court held the defendant was obliged to incorporate an readily available link by The month of january 9, 2016 – once the Regulation entered pressure – although the ODR Platform wasn’t online at that time (it had been launched on Feb 15, 2016). Because the defendant didn’t provide such link, they violated Sect 3a from the German Unfair Competition Act regarding the Article 14 para 1 sentence one of the Regulation (No) 524/2013.
The choice from the district Court of Bochum offers an outlook of methods German courts will tackle non-compliance using the Regulation. Based on Article 18 Regulation, it’s for every Member Condition to select relevant penalties for infringements from the Regulation yet they ought to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. However, as pointed out above, it’s unclear in which the link should be placed online. Ultimately, to the ECJ to find out.
The main job for online traders would be to range from the connect to the ODR Platform within an readily available way online to be able to adhere to the Regulation. The Regulation is directly relevant in most EU Member States (no transposition into national law is essential) and for that reason directly obliges online traders to follow along with the guidelines within.
 – Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Regulation on consumer ODR), OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 1–12.
 – Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Directive on consumer ADR), OJ L 165, 18.6.2013, p. 63–79 (adopted together with the Regulation).
 – The ODR Platform is accessible here: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/?event=main.home.show
 – District Court Bochum (Germany), Decision 31. March 2016 – No: 14 O 12/16.