Online dispute resolution platformPrint
Today it is possible on the Internet or through other electronic channels to conclude a contract aimed at the provision of financial service. These may include, for example, insurance, bank account contracts or application for personal or some other kind of loan. Should you have a legal dispute with a financial service provider established in the European Union and concerning the service concluded in this online manner or service use pursuant to the contract, you can now settle this dispute on-line.
From 15 February 2016 you can handle your disputed matters without referring them to court, even from your home, regardless of geographical distance.
Based on the authorisation provided by Regulation 524/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes (ODR), the European Commission launched the European online dispute resolution platform. This platform serves for the out-of-court resolution of disputes, including financial consumer disputes, related to obligations arising from online service contracts between consumers with residence in the European Union and service providers established in the European Union.
Pursuant to ODR, such a natural person is a consumer who “uses a financial service not for commercial, business or professional purposes.” Every financial service contract is considered an online contract pursuant to which the service provider or the intermediary of the service provider offers some kind of service through a website or other electronic device (such as insurance, personal loan, opening of the bank account, etc.) and the consumer orders it or concludes a contract for it on the given website or through other electronic means.
This platform is available in all official languages of the European Union, and it is built on the existing dispute resolution systems of the Member States, respecting the traditions of the Member States. Its objective, among others, is to ensure that all alternative dispute resolution forums, notified in accordance with section 20 (2) of Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 (on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes), can join the platform, thereby facilitating the online, fast, out-of-court resolution of all disputes arising from online contracts, along uniform principles.
The Ministry of National Development reported on 9 February 2016 to the Commission of the European Union in accordance with the directive, that the Financial Arbitration Board is an entity operating in Hungary as an alternative dispute resolution forum for financial legal disputes, accordingly, it was recorded in the register of dispute resolution bodies: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr/main/index.cfm?event=main.adr.show
The platform was put into operation on 15 February 2016. From this day the Board was also ready to handle online financial consumer disputes arising from online financial consumer contracts and to receive petitions via the platform. In the case of financial consumer disputes related to online contracts, the Board may act both in domestic and cross-border cases, if it receives a petition via the platform. The platform is available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/odr.
If a financial consumer dispute arises concerning an online service contract concluded between the financial consumer and the financial service provider of that consumer (such as a credit institution, financial enterprise, insurer or fund, investment service provider or an intermediary of any of these), the consumer may initiate that the legal dispute is resolved out of court on the homepage of the online dispute resolution platform of the European Union. In the case of a financial consumer dispute, the Financial Arbitration Board operating within the Magyar Nemzeti Bank shall have exclusive competence to resolve disputed matters between a consumer and a financial service provider.
In order to initiate the online dispute resolution process, the consumer needs to register on the electronic service operated by the European Commission, which can be performed by a private individual qualified as a consumer by clicking here. (A complaint may also be created without registration, but later on it will be necessary.)
The platform and the financial service providers
All dispute resolution forums participating in the system must place their electronic link pointing to the online dispute resolution platform on their website; the Board complied with this obligation on 15 February 2016 and at the same time it informed, on its website, financial consumers on the launch of the online platform. Financial service providers operating in the territory of Hungary must also inform financial consumers on the existence of the online dispute resolution platform and on the possibility of using this platform for the resolution of their disputes. They are also obliged to place the electronic link pointing to the online dispute resolution platform on their website, and if they make a proposal for financial services by e-mail, they must also include the link in the given e-mail. In addition, this information must be also included, where appropriate, in the general conditions of the online service contract.
The platform and financial consumers
All consumers – including financial consumers – having a place of abode in the European Union and concluding, as a private person, any contract for financial services via the internet or other electronic means, may resort to online resolution. As a first step, consumers must register on the website of the European Commission, which may also be done in Hungarian. After this they can submit their petition via the platform providing the data specified by the system on the standard form.
Once the fully completed electronic complaint form is received, the online dispute resolution platform sends a standard electronic message to the e-mail address of the adverse party, informing it that a complaint has been filed against it. The dispute resolution platform automatically and immediately forwards the complaint to the alternative dispute resolution forum that the parties agreed to use. The forum designated by the parties may only be the forum specified in the system for the given case type, thus in Hungary only the Financial Arbitration Board may be selected in disputes of financial nature, as it has exclusive competence in such matters. If the dispute is a cross-border one, the range of selectable acting forums may change. The alternative dispute resolution forum, to which the system automatically forwards the complaint, immediately informs the parties whether it agrees or refuses to deal with the dispute.
The resolution of online disputes does not necessitate the personal appearance of the parties or their representatives at the alternative dispute resolution forums, except when the procedures of the given forum prescribe this possibility and the parties agree to it.
The alternative dispute resolution forums acting in the complaints received via the online dispute resolution platform may use their own rules of procedure, thus the activity of the Board is governed by the provisions of the MNB Act and the rules of procedure specified in the Board's Operating Regulations, therefore they are applicable mutatis mutandis, in respect of the cases received via the platform as well. The basic condition of the Board's proceeding is, also in cases received via the online platform that prior to the submission of the petition the petitioner must conduct an unsuccessful complaint procedure against the financial service provider.
Experience related to disputes initiated via the platform
In 2016 the Board received only three petitions via the platform, and all of them related to insurances.
The first one was related to a compulsory motor third party liability insurance. The petitioner stated in his petition that he had initiated the termination of the motor third party liability insurance at his insurer within the statutory deadline, and thereafter he took out an insurance at preferential conditions at another insurer. He complained of the fact that the insurer ignored his termination notice made within the deadline and he was of the opinion that it claimed the premium of him without any legal basis. He asked for the instrumentality of the Board in terminating his contract with the insurer in accordance with his notice and making it waive its further claim for premium. The financial service provider stated at the request of the petitioner that according to its records it received no termination of the contract on the renewal date within the notice period. It is not in the position to cancel the contract on the renewal date with retrospective effect, thus, in its view the compulsory motor third party liability insurance that the petitioner may have taken out for the vehicle at another insurer from the said date is invalid pursuant to the relevant legislative provisions. With a view to resolving the problem, the insurer proposed a settlement agreement according to which if the petitioner pays the premium related to the given month, payable until the 8th day of the following month, they terminate the contract by common consent. The petitioner accepted the settlement agreement proposed by the service provider, thus the Board terminated the procedure.
The second case involved a home insurance claim for damages caused by thunderbolt, in which the petitioner disagreed with the degree and amount of the insurance benefit paid. Since the decision on the amount was an issue that belonged to the competence of an expert and due to the special features of the procedure there was no possibility for further expert evidence, it was not possible to assess the case on the merits, and as no settlement agreement was concluded, the procedure had to be closed with no result.
In the third case the petitioner deemed the premium of his motor third party liability insurance too high. In view of the fact that prior to submitting his petition he conducted no complaint procedure at the financial service provider, the petition had to be rejected due to procedural obstacle and the procedure was terminated.
In summary, it can be stated that the online dispute resolution is a simple, efficient, fast and free form of resolving disputes arising in relation to financial services, an alternative solution for the out-of-court settlement of financial disputes, the advantage of which is that disputes can be resolved irrespective of geographic distance. This system simplifies and eases the communication between the parties or the parties and the acting forum, thereby accelerating the dispute resolution procedure and increasing the efficiency of conflict management. In the financial sector online contracting affect the insurance area the most. In the future it may be expected that the number of contracts concluded online will increase in other financial sectors as well, thus the number of online dispute resolution cases may also increase.