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Press Release

ECODIR Arrives - Launch of the First Online Dispute Resolution Service for e-Commerce Consumers -Electronic Consumer Dispute Resolution service to boost consumer confidence in e-Commerce

Brussels, (BELGIUM), 26 October, 2001 - On October 26th consumer confidence in e-commerce received a significant boost with the launch in Brussels of the ECODIR (Electronic Consumer Dispute Resolution) on-line dispute resolution service. The first of its kind in Europe, the service is designed to enable consumers and e-businesses to resolve disputes arising out of Internet transactions.

ECODIR is provided with the support of the European Commission's Directorate for Health and Consumer Affairs and aims to increase consumer confidence in e-commerce by providing effective cross-border settlement of consumer disputes on-line - without the need for costly and complex recourse to the national courts. The service utilises negotiation and mediation techniques, drawing on a pan-European and North American panel of mediators, to resolve disputes in an effective and efficient way via a secure web platform. Not only is the service cheaper and more efficient for the parties than going to court - until June 25th, 2002 it is completely free to consumers. All a consumer has to do to commence the process is to log on to ECODIR at www.ecodir.org.

Resolving Online Disputes

ECODIR uses a unique on-line process, and secure web technology (developed by the Canadian company eResolutionâ), to resolve Internet disputes in an effective and confidential manner. The process involves 3 stages: negotiation, mediation and recommendation. The negotiation phase is initiated when ECODIR sends an invitation to the respondent to enter negotiations, based on information provided by the consumer. Should the respondent agree to cooperate, the parties then have a fixed time limit within which to negotiate a solution to their dispute via the ECODIR platform. Should negotiations between the parties fail, ECODIR will then invite them to participate in the mediation phase. For this an independent mediator will be appointed by ECODIR to help the parties interact and to identify the key elements of their disagreement in order to assist them in reaching an agreed solution. If a solution is not found through mediation, the mediator may then issue a recommendation based on the principles of honesty and justice, taking into consideration the rights and obligations of the parties in relation to the circumstances of their dispute. A significant element in the ECODIR process is that it is entirely consensual; either party is free to walk away from the process at any stage, and the mediator's recommendation will not be binding on any party unless they have specifically agreed to be bound by it in a separate agreement. Despite such freedom however, studies have shown generally that negotiated and mediated settlements tend to be voluntarily respected by the parties in a significant percentage of cases, and a high compliance rate is expected for ECODIR settlements.

The ECODIR Process


The ECODIR platform

The ECODIR web site and platform is intuitive and easy to use. All that users require are Internet access and e-mail. A private and secure web area is devoted to each dispute, and the system is designed to facilitate the exchange of information in structured way. The process is assisted by automated notification so that the parties are automatically informed of every new element (message, proposal for settlement, etc.) relative to their dispute. Access to the private pages is secured by username and password, and all the information exchanged via the ECODIR platform remains confidential.

The system is concurrently available in English and French, though the language of the dispute resolution between the parties can be any language common to the parties, and the appointment of the mediator takes into account the parties' language skills.


Who is behind ECODIR?

ECODIR is the initiative of a consortium of academic centres and private industry partners, supported and co-financed by the European Commission Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs.

The project is led by the Centre de Recherche Informatique et Droit (CRID) (Law and Computer Science Research Center) of the Faculty of Law at the University of Namur, Belgium, in partnership with the Centre de Recherche de Droit Public (CDRP) (Centre for the Research of Public Law) at the University of Montreal, Canada and the Centre d'Etudes sur la Coopération Juridique Internationale (CECOJI) (Center for the Study of International Legal Cooperation) of the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) (National Scientific Research Centre) in Paris, France. An Advisory Board composed of representatives from industry, professional, and consumer associations and national out-of-court dispute settlement organisations supports the Consortium. The Advisory board includes GlobalSign.

The ECODIR software and web application was developed by, and is licensed from, eResolution® (www.eresolution.com), a Canadian based private partner and world leader in the area of online dispute resolution.

The secretariat of ECODIR is located in Dublin, Ireland and is managed by the company AIDL (Arbitration of International Disputes Ltd) who specialise in the resolution of commercial disputes using the Internet. The secretariat is operated with assistance from the Faculty of Law at University College Dublin.



For Further Information:

For further information visit the ECODIR website at www.ecodir.org, or contact the ECODIR secretariat via e-mail at info@ecodir.org

ECODIR Secretariat, Faculty of Law, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.
Telephone +353 1 716 8799
Fax +353 1 269 2655

   

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