Resource Centre > Glossary > Leuven Study

A study of alternative means of consumer redress other than redress through ordinary judicial proceedings in 25 EU Member States + the USA, Australia and Canada (Final Report of 17 January 2007: Its main point of focus was to identify how ADR mechanisms work from the perspective of the end user. The manner in which the research has been structured indicates that ADR was understood very broadly: to include traditional ADR mechanisms such as Arbitration, Mediation or Ombudsmen, but also any other mechanisms which do not involve ordinary court proceedings – even small claims procedures. Interestingly, it also analyses collective actions and injunctions.

The Report found very significant differences in the organisation and functioning of the ADR mechanisms in the examined countries. It identified a number of reasons for the differences. Apart from historical, political, legal, socio-economic and cultural reasons these are also: the organisation and functioning of ordinary judicial proceedings, the position and organisation of consumers and businesses, and the operation of the public/administrative framework. It also determined that the effectiveness of those mechanisms depends on the particular national context and on a particular case, and thus it is impossible to recommend the best choice from the consumer perspective. However, it also suggested that the differences in ADR mechanisms across the EU, by leaving gaps in access to justice, do constitute detriment to consumers and may disrupt trade between Member States. It followed with similar conclusions concerning small claims procedures, and collective actions.