Great reading for anyone excited about ODR: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/12/pe00/pe00080.en12.pdf
It reads, in part:
"The internal market is a reality for consumers in their daily lives, when they travel, make purchases and make payments. Consumers are key players in the internal market and should therefore be at its heart. The digital dimension of the internal market is becoming vital for both consumers and traders. Consumers increasingly make purchases online and an increasing number of traders sell online. Consumers and traders should feel confident in carrying out transactions online so it is essential to dismantle existing barriers and to boost consumer confidence. The availability of reliable and efficient online dispute resolution (ODR) could greatly help achieve this goal.
Being able to seek easy and low-cost dispute resolution can boost consumers’ and traders’ confidence in the digital Single Market. Consumers and traders, however, still face barriers to finding out-of-court solutions in particular to their disputes arising from cross-border online transactions. Thus, such disputes currently are often left unresolved.
ODR offers a simple, efficient, fast and low-cost out-of-court solution to disputes arising from online transactions. However, there is currently a lack of mechanisms which allow consumers and traders to resolve such disputes through electronic means; this leads to consumer detriment, acts as a barrier, in particular, to cross-border online transactions, and creates an uneven playing field for traders, and thus hampers the overall development of online commerce.
This Regulation should apply to the out-of-court resolution of disputes initiated by consumers resident in the Union against traders established in the Union which are covered by Directive 2013/…/EU+ of the European Parliament and of the Council of …++ on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes (Directive on consumer ADR)
In order to ensure that the ODR platform can also be used for ADR procedures which allow traders to submit complaints against consumers, this Regulation should also apply to the out-of-court resolution of disputes initiated by traders against consumers where the relevant ADR procedures are offered by ADR entities listed in accordance with Article 20(2) of Directive 2013/…/EU+. The application of this Regulation to such disputes should not impose any obligation on Member States to ensure that the ADR entities offer such procedures.
Although in particular consumers and traders carrying out cross-border online transactions will benefit from the ODR platform, this Regulation should also apply to domestic online transactions in order to allow for a true level playing field in the area of online commerce."