Frequently Asked Questions
Online Dispute Resolution is a new way to resolve disputes arising out of online transactions.
The ECODIR Online Dispute Resolution service is completely Web-based and was specifically designed to solve cross - border disputes, where resorting to courts is often impracticable because the high costs and delays are disproportionate compared to the amount in dispute.
ECODIR provides a secure private web-space in which the parties to a dispute can negotiate a mutually acceptable solution using ECODIR's negotiation process. The parties can call for the help of a qualified ECODIR mediator to assist them in solving their dispute if they both wish.
ECODIR does not make any binding decisions or pass judgment. Only the Parties can agree to a binding settlement and they are free to pull out of the process at any stage if they prefer.
The ECODIR interface is designed to ensure easy navigation. The system allows the Parties to participate in the process at any time; wherever they are located.
ECODIR invites you to have a look at the Process Overview and the Process in Detail for further information. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any comments or queries.
ECODIR helps consumers find a solution through a flexible, inexpensive and quick process. Consumers can file their case from any computer connected to the Internet - everything takes place on-line!
The neutral environment of ECODIR helps consumers to reach a "win-win" solution that is satisfactory to them as well as to the business party. The consumer is given a clear view of each step taken in the process, and, since the process is voluntary, the consumer retains control over the outcome of the case.
ECODIR does not displace consumers' other entitlements - a consumer remains free to pursue other dispute resolution processes or to go to court after, or even during, the ECODIR process. In short, a consumer has little to lose by using ECODIR.
But consumers should take care while engaged in ECODIR that no time limits for Consumer Guarantees or for commencement of court action will expire. ECODIR would encourage consumers to know their rights and obligations, and to seek information about consumer protection law through informative Websites or to obtain professional advice or representation.
ECODIR is particularly useful for any busniess that is concerned about increasing consumer confidence - especially in on-line sales. A customer who knows that a business agrees to use ECODIR knows that if they have any complaints or disputes the business has an efficient and effective process for dealing with them.
ECODIR also gives businesses greater control over the management of consumer complaints and claims. All consumer complaints and claims are presented directly to the business in an easily digested format in the secure web space. This makes it easier for the business to process the complaint or claim; to filter valid ones from spurious ones; and even to identify recurring problems in their own products or services. And, of course, ECODIR gives businesses an opportunity to avoid expensive, lengthy and public court actions which may damage their business reputations.
And there is nothing to lose! The neutral environment of ECODIR helps Parties reach a win-win solution. But, since the process is completely voluntary at each stage, the business is under no obligation to respond to any claims, or to enter negotiation or mediation, or to abide by any solution it has not agreed to.
It is also important for businesses to know their rights and obligations. That is why ECODIR encourages Parties to seek information about consumer protection law and electronic commerce law throughout informative Websites or, wher enecessary, to obtain professional advice or representation.
Before filing a case you must ensure that the following conditions are met:
The dispute arose out of an online transaction;
You also have to ensure that the time necessary to find a solution through the ECODIR process and to implement it does not deprive you of a right to bring an action before the courts due to the expiry of a deadline or statutory limitation.
Negotiation involves only the two Parties to a dispute and often represents the first contact after the beginning of the dispute.
ECODIR provides a confidential, secure and economical tool to help find a solution. Throughout the Negotiation process, the Parties are guided in identifying the issue and in proposing constructive solutions that can eventually be formalized as a settlement.
Mediation is a process based on the intervention of a neutral third party, the Mediator. The solution remains in the hands of the disputing Parties but the Mediator helps them to communicate: to diffuse emotions, to identify key issues and to find solutions that could satisfy both Parties. The Mediator helps each Party to understand the others perspective and interests and to agree to compromise and find a mutually acceptable solution.
ECODIR provides the Parties with a confidential, secure and economic tool to communicate with the Mediator and one another and reach a practical solution. The Mediation process helps Parties reach a solution with a specialized ECODIR Mediator that canform the basis of a settlement.
Participation in Negotiation or Mediation is completely voluntary. That is why Negotiation or Mediation is more effective when the Parties collaborate to find a solution:
If the Parties are not able to find a solution to the dispute following the mediation phase, the Mediator issues a motivated recommendation that is not binding. The recommendation is based on the information given by the Parties during the negotiation and mediation phases. Guided by principles of fairness and justice, the Mediator acts as an independent expert and offers a solution based on the rights and obligations of the Parties and the principle of good faith.
The ECODIR Recommendation is the ultimate attempt to find a solution to the dispute. The Parties are still free to accept the Recommendation, which may then be formalized in a settlement. It also allows the Parties to test the strength of their case before pursuing their efforts to reach a solution through other judicial channels.
The ECODIR web space operates through English with help in English and French. Support provided by the ECODIR secretariat can be in English and French.
However, the language of the proceedings in each case will be the common language of the parties - no matter what language they choose. The parties can communicate via ECODIR in any language.
By default, the language of the dispute's resolution will be the language of the transaction that gave rise to the dispute.
What is the legal effect of a settlement concluded online?
In general, parties to agreements reached through Negotiation or Mediation implement them voluntarily in more than 80% of the cases. This statistic is not exclusive to ECODIR, of course, but we have every reason to expect that similar results will be achieved using ECODIR.
What can I do in the absence of settlement?
If your case is not settled, you remain free to pursue other efforts, including court action. Unless the Parties agree otherwise, they accept under the ECODIR rules when entering the process that they will keep all communications and information exchanged during the Negotiation, Mediation or Recommendation phases confidential. These cannot be used in any other context or dispute reolution forum. The ECODIR process is kept confidential in order to enhance the chance of the Parties finding a solution. Settlement agrements can, of course, be produced in other forums to secure compliance if necessary.
Is it possible to be represented?
It is possible for both Parties to be represented by a lawyer or a third Party who can make binding decisions on behalf of the Party they represent. When a Party discloses its personal identification number, that Party implicitly accepts the consequences of actions taken on their behalf in the process. By using the personal identification number, the Party signs electronically.
Is it possible to be assisted?
ECODIR encourages Parties to contact specialists or representatives of associations to learn about consumers rights and obligations, including the mandatory rules protecting consumers. These resource persons will not have a direct role in the process but may be contacted by email, phone, fax or other means of communication.
Remember that these resource persons might not have the opportunity to assist rapidly.