As of today, the law on the implementation of the directive on alternative dispute resolution and online dispute resolution of consumer issues becomes effective in Germany. The new law “Verbraucherstreitbeilegungsgesetz“ (VSGB) is an important part of this, since it enables consumers to assert contractual claims at an official consumer arbitration office without risking high costs. The following regulations are entailed:
- In order to fulfill the requirements of the directive on alternative dispute resolution of consumer issues, a comprehensive network of consumer arbitration offices is to be provided. Regarding contractual conflicts, consumers can also get in touch with a corresponding office by telephone.
- Mediators are responsible for the independence and neutrality of arbitration offices and have to meet high qualification standards. Moreover, recognition authorities supervise the compliance with legal requirements.
- In case of disputes in sectors without sector-specific arbitration offices, consumers can contact the general arbitration office called “Zentrum für Schlichtung e.V.“.
Heiko Maas, German Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection, commented as follows: “Alternative dispute resolution offers consumers a simple and risk-free way of enforcing their rights against businesses. We create the opportunity for everyone to quickly and easily get his or her right without high effort and the risk of high costs from a court trial. A successful mediation also yields the chance of an ongoing intact customer relationship in spite of the conflict. Through official arbitration offices, we improve the law enforcement for consumers.”