ADR and Consumers between Europe and China

Authors: Laura Sempi


A renewed attention to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) models give the cue for some observations in a comparative perspective: mediation is a good laboratory in order to observe cross-circulation of legal models for contemporary comparative law scholars. We witness here a recent convergence of Western systems and East Asian countries on ADR mechanisms which represent a typical feature of the legal tradition of the latter even with its own characteristics.

Indeed, in the last decade the European Union has promoted extrajudicial forms of disputes resolution, in the first place with Directive 2008/52/EC. The two proposals of Directive on consumer ADR and Regulation on consumers Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) issued on November 2011 go farther on this track, by extending recourse to ADR models to consumer litigation.

Consumer protection, a traditional policy area of the EU, represents an emerging field of law instead in the Chinese legal landscape. After scandals such as the highly debated Sanlu tainted-milk case, the Chinese Government seeks to enhance consumer protection standards. The reform draft of Chinese Consumer Law currently under discussion mandates mediation for consumers disputes as well.

The two scenarios are examined in order to highlight lights and shadows of ADR with regard to consumer rights protection.