The ABDRC services continue to be accessed by the Romanian consumers, with 2,525 compliant applications countered in the end of 2021, 555 casefiles (447 resolutions) and 280 amicably settled applications after the consumer referral to ABDRC. Conciliation via ABDRC should become the alternative of choice for a consumer when they need to address a problem with the traders in the financial and banking system, to the detriment of the actions brought before courts or other litigation-based methods.
I. About ABDRC Establishment
- The Alternative Banking Dispute Resolution Centre (ABDRC) is an independent non-governmental apolitical, not-for-profit legal entity of public interest established under the Government Ordinance no. 38/2015 on alternative resolution of disputes between consumers and traders, which transposes at domestic level Directive No 2013/11/EU on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for consumer disputes, as well as Regulation (EU) No 524/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on online dispute resolution (ODR) for consumer disputes.
- ABDRC’s work is render at two levels:
- administrative – organization and functioning of ABDRC as legal entity;
- operational – organization and performance of the alternative dispute resolution activity.
The aim of this keeping these two lines of work separated is to reflect the independence of the Conciliators’ work from the administrative matters of ABDRC.
II. Administrative activity of ABDRC
1.Activity of the Steering Board
The ultimate duty of the Board, the work of which is rendered under the Regulation for ABDRC’s Organization and Steering Board’s Functioning, is to steer and provide oversight of the administrative activity of the Centre. Thus, the members of the Steering Board have powers and duties in connection with approval and amendment of the resolution procedures, approval of conciliators, approval of the income and expenditure budget, etc.
The Board members are not involved in any operational activity of the Centre (the review and resolution of the disputes being reserved exclusively to conciliators), and their task is to see that ABDRC has available sufficient resources to carry out its activity in an efficient and independent manner.
Highlights of the Steering Board’s activity in 2021:
- continuation of all the activities (conciliation, meetings of the Steering Board, communication, employees’ presence in the office, meetings with traders/collaborators, etc.) by adapting them to the current COVID-19 pandemic context, under suitable security conditions;
- continuation of the communication activity via different channels adapted to the current COVID-19 pandemic context;
- continuation of the administrative litigation proceedings registered with Bucharest Court of Appeal under case number: 6047/2/2018, concerning the challenge of ABDRC against the Decision no. 2377/DA/31.05.2018 issued by the Ministry of Economy on entering ABDRC in the list of ADR entities in Romania – the proceedings are pending before this court;
- resuming/following up on the efforts to engage the NBFIs in the activity of the Centre;
- revision of the Internal Regulation of ABDRC;
- changing the ABDRC Organization Chart;
- approval of the financial statements executed as at 31 December 2020, and provision of information about the 2020 Audit Report;
- appointment by the National Consumer Protection Authority of new representative in the Steering Board;
- election of the President of the Steering Board for a 1-year term of office;
- review and approval of the 2022 ABDRC budget (2022 IEB).
2. Communication, promotion, information and financial education
Communication takes place across the following levels (according to ABDRC’s communication strategy):
- communication with banks and NBFIs (traders);
- communication with consumers;
- communication with stakeholders;
- holding of work meetings with conciliators, whenever these are necessary, as part of the process of updating/reviewing the Regulation of the Procedural Secretariat and the ADR procedures, as the amicable dispute resolution work advances;
2.1. ABDRC’s Communication and Promotion Activity
Communication with, and information of consumers and traders about ABDRC take place via the following channels:
- communication via the traditional media channels (TV, Radio, Written Press, Online, Blogging);
- communication via own channels: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram;
- organization of/participation in conferences, seminars, debates (also online), etc.;
- communication via commercial banks (online and offline: leaflets, posters, stickers, video production);
- communication via the National Authority for Consumer Protection (at central level and through the County Commissariats);
- communication via consumer associations.