New requirements for online retailers

22 april 2016 – Micheline Don

When travelling or when making purchases and payments, the online marketplace is a daily reality for consumers. Both they and retailers should feel comfortable when trading online, whether within their own country or across borders. To that end, the EU has recently introduced online dispute resolution (ODR) procedures, which should facilitate a reliable, easy and low-cost resolution of disputes for online trading throughout the EU.

The ODR platform is available to consumers and traders living or established in the EU and regards trade agreements made between retailers (including online marketplaces) and consumers using websites or other electronic means (such as text, email or social media). Participation in the platform is not mandatory, although certain requirements relating to the platform are.

If you are an EU retailer, you must in any case:

  • include on your website an easily accessible link to the ODR platform ( (even if you only trade within the Netherlands/your own country);
  • provide a business email address on your website, so the consumer can contact you in the event of a possible dispute.

If, as an EU retailer, you agree to use the ODR platform, you must in addition:

  • provide the link to the ODR platform in any promotional emails;
  • inform consumers about the ODR platform on your website, and – where applicable – in your general terms and conditions applicable to your online sales and service contracts.

The EU member states are to determine appropriate penalties if the retailer fails to comply with the above. Once a retailer has joined a Disputes Committee for his specific industry, the ODR platform will refer any complaint it receives to that Committee. Although participating in the ODR platform is not mandatory in the Netherlands, participation will likely increase a customer’s confidence in the retailer and his company. As a result, the ODR platform may promote the further growth of a single online market across the EU and provide an easy and affordable online solution for disputes that may arise. Feel free to contact us if you wish to know whether or not your website and communications meet the new requirements.

Micheline Don