Rules for online financial service providers relating to alternative dispute resolutions for consumers

As of yet, not all online service providers comply with the rules set out in the Regulation on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes (Regulation ODR consumers). From February 15, 2016 online service providers are required to point out on their website that consumers have optional access to online dispute resolution through the online dispute resolution platform (ODR-platform) created by the European Commission. Via the ODR-platform, consumers can submit their dispute with an online service provider and make known that they are searching for a solution by means of alternative dispute resolution. After submission of a consumer’s complaint via the ODR-platform, the online service provider concerned will receive a notification thereof. The online service provider can subsequently propose to submit the dispute to a particular dispute resolution committee. In the case of an online financial service provider, the appropriate dispute resolution committee will be the Financial Services Complaints Tribunal (Klachteninstituut Financiële Dienstverlening).

In practice, the Regulation ODR consumers will mean that online service providers:

• place an electronic link to the ODR-platform on their website (the link should be easily accessible for consumers);
• who are already committed to the Financial Services Complaint Tribunal, inform consumers about the existence of the ODR-platform and the ability to make use of the platform in the event they are searching for alternative dispute resolution (this information should be provided on the website via an electronic link to the ODR-platform, if an offer of services is made by e-mail the link to the ODR-platform will be included in the e-mail as well);
• will place the electronic link in the general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.

It is important to meet these requirements. In case of violation, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets has the authority to impose an administrative fine when it comes to financial services.