Differences and similarities: Comparative review by European Consumer Centres on alternative dispute resolution in the Nordic and Baltic countries

Nordic and Baltic European Consumer Centres have published a comparative overview of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in these countries. It includes information on, inter alia, the number of dispute resolution bodies, the languages used, processing times and whether the processing is subject to a charge, as well as the binding nature and compliance rate of the decisions issued by the bodies.

Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, refers to the resolution of a dispute by an impartial body outside court proceedings. The Finnish ADR bodies are the Consumer Disputes Board, the Traffic Accident Department of the Traffic Accident and Patient Injury Board and the Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau FINE.

ADR processes in the Nordic and Baltic countries are similar in many ways. The same EU legislation, or the ADR Directive, applies to all the countries under review. These countries’ ADR procedures are also based on the common idea that consumer disputes can be settled more easily and cheaply in out-of-court dispute resolution.

However, the review reveals that alternative dispute resolution processes in the Nordic and Baltic countries also have their differences. For example, the number of ADR cases varies significantly between the bodies, and the flow of the process and working methods are different. The binding nature of decisions also varies between the bodies. Additionally, all countries have their own restrictions that prevent them handling certain types of consumer disputes under the ADR procedure.

The purpose of the review was to:

  • provide the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) with a more precise understanding of how ADR works in the Nordic and Baltic countries, thus improving the quality of the work carried out by the network in cross-border consumer matters. European Consumer Centres direct consumers toward different countries’ alternative dispute resolution bodies if the case cannot be resolved by the European Consumer Centres and the case is suitable for the dispute resolution body.
  • provide relevant information to the European Commission, Nordic and Baltic ministries and other stakeholders. This information can be used in the development of European Union’s ADR and ODR legislation, on which the Commission is currently working. ODR (online dispute resolution) refers to dispute resolution via the Internet.
  • provide national ADR bodies with information on ADR mechanisms in the Baltic and Nordic countries to assess the effectiveness of their own system.

The research data was collected and processed at the end of 2022, and the report itself was prepared this spring. The conduct of the study and the writing of the report are coordinated by the European Consumer Centre Denmark. The working group also included representatives from European Consumer Centres in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The review is in English.

Read the Nordic and Baltic ADR review:

ADR in the Nordic and Baltic countries. A comparative study. European Consumer Centres Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 2023.