The amendment to the Consumer Protection Act under Act No. 378/2015 Coll. has brought several important developments. Along with enhancing consumer protection, particularly through the expansion of the Czech Trade Inspection Office’s powers to fight unfair sales practices, the amendment ushers in another key change: the introduction of alternative dispute resolution methods for consumer disputes. In this way, Czech law has transposed the European regulation on alternative forms of consumer dispute resolution, including online tools. Since February 2016, Czech consumers (without any exceptions related to the type of service provided) have had the option to contact the entity responsible for the alternative resolution of consumer disputes (as named directly in the Act or entrusted with this role by the Ministry of Industry and Trade) with a request to settle their dispute with a seller of goods (or service provider). The Act sets out the requirements for this application, which must be filed within one year of the date when the seller first asserted the relevant right, as well as other procedural matters. If the legal requirements are met, the seller’s participation in the conciliation is compulsory and their cooperation may be enforced by administrative sanctions.

There is no fee for the proceedings and each party bears their own costs. The parties do not need to be legally represented. The proceedings should be wound up within 90 days. This time limit may be extended in complex cases. If no settlement is achieved via a written agreement, the conciliation body may issue a non-binding statement on the case which the consumer can potentially use in future legal actions.

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