Renowned scholars discussed the current plans of the German government (see draft) regarding the implementation of the ADR directive at Humboldt University Berlin last Friday (see conference program).
The ADR directive whose implementation is due by July 2015 sets out minimum requirements for ADR bodies in the European Union. These include: no/low fees for consumers, no need to involve lawyers, fast and purely written procedures. Germany in essence plans to follow these criteria. Whereas the Directive allows for schemes where the decision-maker is “employed or remunerated exclusively by the individual trader“ under certain additional conditions, Germany opted out of this option. This does, of course, not exclude for such bodies to exist. However, they cannot be part of the new consumer ADR network. The directive, furthermore, leaves various options as to how binding the results of such dispute resolution can be made. According to the draft document Germany decided against a system of binding awards. The consumer can always go to court, too. Whereas consumers incur no (or only low) fees, traders may be charged. The overarching ADR network will be provided for any dispute involving a European consumer against a German trader. The individual boards can go further than that in their scope. They could, for instance, also offer settlement in cases that are initiated by traders against consumers or traders against traders and relax the requirement of German residence. The participants questioned in how far ADR will be successful in Germany given a rather well-working court system even for small claims.
The consultation phase for the draft document is soon to expire after which a final legislative proposal will be produced that then needs to go through the parliamentary process.