Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a process of settling disputes out of court with the assistance of an independent and impartial third party. Depending on the type of dispute resolution body, the independent third party considers the evidence in a dispute and either makes a decision, offers a solution, or helps the parties to come to an agreement.
The MCCAA ADR Solution, as a Residual ADR body, is competent to handle disputes where there are no sector specific ADR entities. It addresses both domestic and cross-border disputes concerning contractual obligations resulting from sales contracts or service contracts between a trader established in the European Union and a consumer resident in the EU.
What to expect when submitting a dispute on the MCCAA ADR Solution
The process commences when the dispute is referred by the parties to MCCAA for out of court settlement through the ADR process. The procedure is voluntary, therefore both consumer and trader must agree to refer their dispute to the ADR process. Following successful registration of the dispute, an ADR Officer is allocated to the dispute to analyse the case and start the ADR.
The ADR Officer must ensure that:
(a) the dispute falls within the remit of the MCCAA’s ADR procedure;
(b) all the required and necessary information has been supplied by the parties; and
(c) there are no circumstances that may be seen to affect the independence and impartiality of the ADR Officer.
Should there be grounds for refusing to consider the dispute, the ADR Officer will inform the parties with a reasoned explanation within 3 weeks from when receiving the complaint.
Upon completion of case evaluation, the ADR officer will communicate to the parties a date for the first ADR session. Throughout the whole process the parties will be allowed sufficient time to put forward their submissions including any additional documents or expert opinions if required. The ADR Officer records the conclusions of each session and notifies the parties of the next session if required.
Once the parties confirm that they do not have any further submissions to make, the ADR Officer will proceed to conclude the process by drawing a report containing a proposed solution. The parties will decide whether to agree or otherwise to the proposed solution by expressing their consent after being given time to reflect on the proposed outcome.
The procedure has a time limit of 90 days from when the complete information is received by the ADR Officer. This period can be extended depending on the nature of the case.
At any point of the procedure the parties may opt to appoint a representative or may opt to withdraw from the procedure. The ADR procedure does not limit the right of the parties to seek judicial redress.
Further information about the MCCAA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution System can be found through this Guide.