ADR and Settlement of Mass Claims
Edited by Christopher Hodges and Astrid Stadler
Chapter 11: Out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes in financial services
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) has become a topical issue as part of the process of improving access to justice and has developed extensively in the financial services sector. Extrajudicial settlements are often viewed as cheap and expeditious alternatives to court dispute resolution procedures in consumer matters. As a result, the EU has become increasingly active in promoting ADR, adopting a wide range of measures which include Recommendations, Directives and, more recently, sector specific guidelines. Despite the gradual Europeanization of this area, a comparison of consumer ADR schemes in the financial services sector shows a wide range of national approaches, including arbitration, ombudsmen, mediation and conciliation schemes. Furthermore, persistent challenges in terms of availability and quality of financial services schemes remain. This chapter will provide a comparative perspective on key consumer ADR measures that apply to financial services dispute resolution in the EU and in three Member States. It will focus in particular on the insurance sector, where the numbers of complaints have grown in some countries and where a complex system of specialized schemes has been developed. Finally, this chapter will outline the recent proposals by the European Commission on Consumer ADR and on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), assessing possible implications for dispute resolution in financial services.
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