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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Alternative Dispute Resolution - new rules have been in force for a year now

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Alternative Dispute Resolution - new rules have been in force for a year now
  • Poles willingly use the possibility of amicable dispute resolution in consumer disputes.
  • The Act, which has been in force for a year now, has led to over 800 pieces of advice provided by UOKiK, nearly 8,000 cases conducted by the Trade Inspection Authority, 3,500 by the Financial Ombudsman, and hundreds at other institutions.
  • The disputes usually concerned defective shoes, white goods, as well as telecommunications and financial services.

A company rejected your complaint? For a year now, instead of waging a court battle you can take advantage of the out-of-court proceedings (also referred to by the English abbreviation ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution). It’s faster - takes maximum 90 days - usually free and less stressful. Such a possibility has been introduced by the Act on Out-of-Court Consumer Dispute Resolution, which came into force on 10 January 2017. The precondition - both parties have to agree to take part in the
ADR proceedings.

A lot of consumers are interested in it. In the past year, the Contact Point at the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection provided over 800 pieces of information on the ADR proceedings. The disputes usually concerned shoes, clothes, audio/video devices and white goods, as well as air travel. Consumers also reported problems with utility suppliers, telecommunications companies, railway operators and banks.

- It’s a significant success - emphasises Marek Niechciał, President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. - UOKiK neither conducts ADR proceedings, nor accepts applications. It’s done by the authorised entities. However, our Contact Point provides advice, and can help fill in documents, as well as indicate at which institution they need to be submitted.

Who conducts ADR proceedings?

  • Trade Inspection Authority. Disputes connected with selling goods and services,
  • e.g. with sellers, developers, refurbishment companies or travel agents. From
  • 10 January to 15 December 2017, the Trade Inspection Authority received, in total, 7,970 applications for ADR proceedings. In mid-December 2017, the Trade Inspection Authority conducted, in total, 1,013 proceedings in the area of consumer conciliation and mediation.
  • Financial Ombudsman. Financial and insurance disputes. The institution currently is in charge of approximately 3,500 cases.
  • The arbitration court attached to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. Financial disputes. By November 2017 it had received 2,380 applications and is in charge of 900 proceedings.
  • Banking Arbitrator attached to the Polish Bank Association. Only disputes with banks. By the end of the 3rd quarter of 2017 it had received 884 applications.
  • The President of the Office of Electronic Communications. Telecommunications and postal services disputes. In November 2017, it was in charge of approximately
  • 1,400 proceedings.
  • The Negotiation Coordinator attached to the President of the Polish Energy Regulatory Office. Disputes with electricity, gas and heating suppliers. By November 2017, it had received approximately 300 cases.
  • The Rail Passenger Rights Ombudsman attached to the President of the Office of Rail Transport. Disputes with railway operators. In November 2017, it conducted approximately 130 ADR cases.
  • “Friendly flying” Passenger Rights Association. Disputes with airlines. From April to mid-December 2017, it was in charge of 10 mediation proceedings.

When you submit the application, remember that:

  1. ADR proceedings are post-complaint proceedings. First you need to submit a complaint about a defective product or service, and the seller needs to reject the whole or part of it.
  2. The application needs to be signed.
  3. The application needs to be accompanied by documents, e.g. payment confirmation, complaint correspondence with the undertaking, photograph of the defective product.
  4. In principle, participation in the ADR proceedings is voluntary, which means that both parties have to agree to that procedure (with the exception of the proceedings conducted by the Financial Ombudsman and Banking Arbitrator, where the undertaking’s participation is obligatory). What is also voluntary is the acceptance of the dispute resolution reached during the proceedings, with the exception of the arbitration conducted by the Banking Arbitrator (the decision is binding for the bank) and the Arbitration Court attached to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (the decision is binding for both parties).
  5. If you are involved in a dispute about a product or service which you purchased online, you can submit an e-application on ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) platform. This website - run by the European Commission - is available also in Polish. It’s particularly useful in the case of disputes with undertakings from other EU countries. Remember that if the other party doesn’t agree to the ADR proceedings, the case is closed after 30 days. By the end of 2017, Poles had submitted over 1,600 applications this way.
  6. If you are involved in a dispute with an undertaking from another EU country, you can take advantage of the assistance provided by European Consumer Centre.
  7. If you submit an application to the Trade Inspection Authority, choose the inspectorate in the province in which the shop with which you have a dispute is located. In the case of online shopping, the inspectorate from the region in which the company has its headquarters would be the most competent.
  8. Most proceedings are free to consumers. The exceptions include proceedings conducted by: Financial Ombudsman (PLN 50), Arbitration Court attached to the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (PLN 50 - mediation, PLN 150 – arbitration) and Banking Arbitrator (PLN 50 or PLN 20 – depending on the value of the claim). You should also take into account the cost of appointing an expert, if there is such a need.

You can find help here:

e-mail: [SCODE]a29udGFrdC5hZHJAdW9raWsuZ292LnBs[ECODE]

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: 695 902 088
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]

Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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