Online Dispute Resolution in the UK

Introduction

The process of mediation is a critical aspect that social systems try to perfect. Mediation is an important tool that helps in resolving conflicts and creating solutions for disputes. Conventionally, mediation is being manifested by local and central courts. These institutions are provided with the legal mandate to perform mediation. Several techniques have been developed to ensure that mediation is properly manifested. It is always assumed that mediators conform to the elements of impartiality. Mediation applies in all forms of disputes. Conflicts involving individuals and commerce are the most common forms where mediation is required.

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Aside from courts, there are several forms of mediation that have evolved. There are mitigating circumstances that have contributed to the creation of these mediation alternatives. Two of the most prominent include distance and technology. There was a need to create a mitigation process to resolve these prominent issues. Hence online dispute resolution came into existence. This form of mediation makes use of technology to connect parties involve before mediation is done. Online dispute resolution (ODR) involves negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. It usually follows conventional methods of mediation combined with online connectivity.

ODR is one of the prominent mediation procedures being implemented in the United Kingdom (UK). It is being preferred by most individuals because it allows mediation without the actual presence of parties involved. In addition, most businesses consider ODR as a time-saving mediation process. Usually, mediators involved in ODR are provided with licenses to perform the mediation. It is necessary for mediators to be knowledgeable and have experience are handling civil and business disputes.

The ODR Method

It is hard to correctly define ODR because it embraces a wide scope. But the most important consideration in defining ODR is the presence of technology. Aside from ODR, there are other acronyms that indicate such process. These include: internal dispute resolution (IDR); electronic dispute resolution (EDR); electronic ADR (eADR); and online ADR (oADR).1 Usually ODR is viewed as an interdisciplinary field of dispute resolution.2 It involves various forms of techniques and mediators obtained different skills to perform such procedures. Aside from technology, mediation that involves innovative processes can also be identified as ODR.

ODR includes bilateral and multilateral negotiations on the Internet. Because of the presence of the Internet, online negotiation is often directed as assisted negotiation. The computer’s assistance in the process of the negotiation is critical. It allows parties and the mediator to initiate the negotiation, create productive discussions, identify possible solutions, and draft settlement agreements.3 The negotiation process also involves the discussion of aspects that can affect the settlement. Although the process of negotiation can be done offline, it is often suggested that the online method provides better results.

Negotiation is based on technological improvements. At present, blind bidding is the most used dispute resolution service provided online. The process involves the demand and offer of both parties translated into monetary considerations. A system is used to reconcile both the demand and offer of parties. In the event that the offer matches the demand, the dispute is subsequently settled.4 Once the settlement is identified, the clients will be notified through their preferred online communication scheme.

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Most of ODR providers online focus on online mediation. There are several steps taken to perform online mediation. The first phase involves the complainants which are required to fill-out forms provided by mediators. After completing the form, the mediator will contact the respondent for participation.5 The complainants and respondents are required to comply with the rules provided by the online mediators. The mediators initiate the communication either individually or jointly. Agreements usually take in a form of writing to for formalisation.

Technically, the online process of mediation is no different from the traditional method. The processes are only separated by the extensive use technology observed in online mediation. Electronic mails are commonly used by mediators to communicate with both respondents and complainants. Aside from electronic mails online mediation is also using as expanded communication schemes.6 Online mediation allows all parties to use websites, electronic conferencing, online chat, video conferencing, and facsimile. In some instances, mediators will set-up a meeting between the parties. This method, however, is often discouraged because of issues such as distance and time.

Online arbitration is another component of ODR. It has some phases of communications that include process agreement, initial presentations, rebuttals, considerations, and decisions. Arbitration is simpler in form when compared with mediation and it only requires basic technology tools. Common arbitration needs basic software that documents to be presented, accessed and shared. But there are some complications associated with the use of online arbitration.7 There are instances when parties quit the process because of unwillingness to implement the imposed solutions by the arbitrator. It is also imperative for participants to fully understand the concept of arbitration before entering into agreements.

Legal Requisites of ODR

ODR is bound by several laws in UK. In 1998, the European Commission has provided recommendations that apply to binding arbitration procedures. Another important ODRer is the Due Process Protocol for Mediation and Arbitration created by the AAA. This protocol observes standard due process in disputes. In practising ODR, two of the most important legal aspects that have to be considered are independence and impartiality. It is a must for the ODR service provider and mediator to be unbiased and free from vested interests.8 Independence and impartiality is reference to the service provider means that funding and board structure have to be neutral. In reality, however, such provision is difficult to check.

It is important that additional safeguards have to be installed against biases. Usually, a third party is tasked to monitor the decisions of the ODR provider. In addition, both parties are accODRed with enough information as to the progress of the mediation.9 For mediators, the code professional ethics has to be practised religiously. Mediators have to disclose any information that will hint interest in a particular dispute. As for the third party monitoring the service provider, sufficient pay and job security has to be assured. This will prevent the third party from being impartial when decisions are made. All parties involved in the mediation have to be accODRed with relevant information in relation to the practise of the professional code of ethics. Most important, selection of mediators and representatives of the third party has to be done randomly. Neither the complainant nor the respondent is allowed to choose their mediators.

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Publicity and transparency are also vital legal components of ODR. All parties expect that mediation proceedings are manifested secretly.10 In any dispute where public interest in inexistent, ODR service provider has to ensure that information leaks will never happen. In some instances, however, some parties request the ODR service provider to divulge some information in mainstream media. This situation is usually observed in high-end commercial disputes involving large firms and consumers. There have been ways being done that keeps information public yet protected. Some providers only publish the proceedings of the mediation in their website.11 Only individuals with legal authorisations are allowed to access the information. Moreover, some providers restrict members from reproducing the information found in the website.

There have debates made over the extent of information that has to be published. Online mediation is a series of informal discussion resulting to informal solutions.12 Hence, publication of data is limited to some statistics and brief background of the proceedings. It is common among providers to evade from providing information for publication. Finally, ODR providers have to clarify the rules and standards being used in arriving at the solutions and agreements.13

Language and cultural barriers are also considered as impediments to ODR. Although remote, some providers have experienced problems is dealing with participants with strict cultural prejudices.14 In terms of language, UK uses English as the medium for communications. It is rare for providers to accommodate disputes that require other languages. Cultural biases are being addressed by providing universal norms agreeable to all parties involved. Indeed, it is the obligation of the provider to ensure that these measly legal barriers are well addressed.

Further, all parties are accODRed with ample time and space to present their case. It is important that balance in presentation is established to maintain fairness. Communications in ODR are mostly delivered through written means. Providers are required to give sufficient time to both complainants and respondents to respond. There are several issues that can affect fairness in mediations. Some parties lack the writing capability that others have.15 Their inability to communicate effectively can affect the decision of the mediator. Moreover, some participants are considered as experienced in this form of mediation. It is evident that their response will be in accODRance to what was experienced in previous disputes.

The Evolution of ODR

It is a common notion that the Internet initiated the development of ODR. But the Internet was already present in 1969 while ODR emerge only in the late 1990s. There is a simple explanation for this backlog. Before the Internet reached its sustained state, technology was still limited.16 Key facilities in building the Internet have yet to fully perform as expected. Nonetheless, the continuous improvement of the Internet and some facilities has extended to the judicial process. Gradually, courts have acquired high performing technologies to facilitate the delivery of justice.

Virtual courtrooms are already part of traditional justices system. Courts in UK have accepted the benefits brought by equipments and tools. Some UK courts have been accepting electronic evidences. Instead of hard copies, courts prefer information saved is compact discs. AccODRing to Frederick Lederer, 17 the Courtroom is an hub. The Courtroom houses a scientific process that include gathering of evidences, arguing of points, and presentation of verdict. There are complex exchanges happening inside the Courtroom. Hence it is necessary for all participants to be equipped with facilities offered by technology.

The development of ODR as a reputable process is well-documented. Usually, providers encounter disputes involving consumer purchases. The other providers have transformed into sophisticated mediators. These services are using artificial intelligence to develop top-notch settlement skills.18 In fact, some service providers make use of mathematic algorithms to determine the best possible solution for a particular conflict. One basic necessity for ODR to develop is the confidence of the clients. As trust in the system improves, cases are pushed further. From simple conflict, cases extend to complexities and several other parties are expected to be involved.

The development of ODR needs the cooperation of all entities benefiting from it. There has to acceptance from the public including traditional lawyers that the scheme works with paramount efficiency. In addition, the technical side of ODR has to be maintained.19 This involves constant development of facilities to further strengthen the process. Support coming from various sectors need to ensure that ODR results are expected in the same manner as usual justice is served.

Another instrumental circumstance that led to the creation of ODR was the rising incidence of Internet conflicts. As online transactions and activities evolved, violations of the laws also emerged.20 In UK, the government and the public have been considered by Internet assisted crimes. Identity theft and product disputes are the usual conflicts happening online. Since traditional courts are ill-equipped to respond, the judicial system gradually extended its existence online. This transition was hard for local courts to manifest. Hence the need to privatise ODR providers became imminent. There are several ODR providers already existing in UK at present.

ODR Schemes and Techniques

Non-binding evaluation is a technique that involves the aspect of neutrality in making a decision based on written submissions and documentary evidences submitted by all participants. When evaluation is involved, the decision takes a form of a non-binding recommendation.21 Logically decision is unbinding and non-enforceable. Such aspect makes the cooperation of the other party after a conflict has occurred.

Mock trials are also called summary jury trials. These are ODR processes which have a jury of peers whereby this group makes a non-binding determination of issues through web-based platforms.22 The information and important details are stored in a platform available to the participants of the dispute. Only concerned individuals and groups are allowed to access the portal. In this process, the third party will be acted by volunteers. These volunteers will serve as the electronic jury. All communications are exclusive to the website and rarely leaked.

Automated Settlement Systems are hybrid forms of ODR most preferred by businesses. This is being used when monetary claims are being disputed online. It is also possible for Automated Settlement Systems to be used as negotiation tool as part of a new resolution process.23 In this process, participants are making successive random bids. It is important for the amounts made by both parties to reach a level of similarity. From there, a settlement will be drafted by the mediator. Automated Settlement System uses software and eliminates the need for a third party. This is indeed a cost saving process. The software also maintains the confidentially of the amounts raised. Electronic mail and other communication tools are used to deliver possible settlements.

Complaints assistance gives parties with tools for effective communication. Usually, it allows a participant to make a complaint.24 Subsequently, the participant can issue a demand for the respondent to address. In commerce, such process is an effective tool to build company-customer relationship. It is an avenue for consumers to raise their concerns and to give time for firms to adequately respond.

Credit card charge back is a scheme developed by credit card issuers that allows users to cancel any purchase made through the card. The bank acts as the third party that verifies consumer complaints. Once the complaint is established the bank will reduce the amount billed to the consumer. In some instances, the card issuer acts as the mediator.25 UK is one of the countries that regulate this process. There have been incidents when card issuers are biased and make favourable decisions to banks.

There are some ODR that are viewed as unstructured. This means that service providers are willing to settle the dispute regardless of the nature of disputes. Some complainants prefer this scheme because it is wide open.26 But the funding of these service providers is limited. These providers depend mostly on the percentage taken from the claims made by the participants. In this scheme membership fees are not required by the providers.

Another form of ODR provides membership slots. The members are tasked to perform roles as defined by the provider. Only a small fee is required in this technique. Because of the membership, participants are allowed to use the symbol on the website and stationery signifying participation in the ODR. The symbol boosts the branding of the members and enhances trust.27 Lastly, several websites offer ODR services. These portals allow forums and discussions related to civil and commercial conflict resolution. Aside from ODR, the websites offer dispute prevention methods.

Advantages of ODR

There are several advantages that can be attributed to ODR. The most important contribution of ODR is the significant reduction of cost. In resolving conflicts, traditional courts require payments of several fees.28 ODR presents a cheap alternative that is proven as effective. This scheme is also beneficial for complainants who have no to pay travel expense and lodging costs. Purchasing a computer and acquiring internet connection is cheaper than the aforementioned costs. At present, statistics proving the cost-effectiveness of ODR are still incomplete. But further enhancement of the Internet and communication tools will lessen cost of dispute resolution.

Aside from monetary cost, ODR seeks to reduce time used for conflict resolution. Majority of ODR portals are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. In addition, participants need not go to a courtroom to discuss their differences.29 A computer and an internet connection are enough to perform the discussion. In courts, disputes are left unresolved for months and even years. ODR is specifically created to reduce the time needed to determine the necessary actions for the conflicts.

Moreover, ODR is a convenient for of dispute resolution. The participants have the capacity to respondent at their most desired time and have more alternatives for expert counselling. Since ODR operates through the internet, competition among service providers is intense. Because there are several players in the ODR market, consumers can meticulously choose its best option. Several alternatives also mean that fees for services are low. In electronic commerce, participants prefer resolving issues through the language they understand.30 Indeed, ODR is the best way to address issues that relate to the Internet.

The availability of information is vital in any dispute resolution. Unlike traditional courts, ODR providers make information instantly available. Courts require several permits and legal bases before a participant can gain access of dispute resolution proceedings. In ODR, parties can access the website of the provider without hassles. Participants can also gain access of other information relevant to their dispute.31 Since there are no physical contacts, participants can monitor the process without being threatened by their counterparts.

Finally, ODR allows parties to gain access of expert opinions without worrying about additional cost. The discussions made by the parties with third parties are vital in presenting their cases.32 ODR is also self-regulated, which means that it is flexible and conforms to the requirements of the dispute. ODR also makes use of sophisticated software and top notch equipments.

ODR has gradually evolved beyond the initial philosophy to a second channel of development. It is obvious that ODR offers new possibilities and potential for dispute resolution procedures that hard difficult to implement offline. Conflicts involving data protection, digital rights management and e-taxation in transactional cases, and defamation or privacy infringement in non-transactional cases are viable ODR clients.33

It is evident that some of the techniques that worked well in the online context are not readily translated back into face-to-face contexts without compromising their basic effectiveness. This led many ODR scholars to abandon the notion that ODR techniques mirror face-to-face scheme.34 In fact, there was a whole new spectrum of possibilities in the world of online redress, as there could be as many “fourth sides”. It also became clear that ODR was a crucial capacity for the Internet if it was to continue to grow and develop as a trusted environment. The complexities of cross-bODRer communication, language, and time difference required new solutions, and it became increasingly clear that ODR could offer effective answers.

Disadvantages of ODR

For Hammil, ODR has its disadvantages. The lack of nonverbal communication cues can be frustrating. Expressions are important in emphasising sincerity and truthfulness when delivering a certain stand.35 Moreover, the response time for ODR can be disturbing as there is a waiting period between interactions. One of the major disadvantages of ODR is that not everyone is technologically savvy or has Internet access. This incapacity can serve as a disadvantage to any party who decides to use the method for dispute resolution.

It is evident that ODR lacks the teeth of the non-binding procedure. In most instances, effectiveness of the procedure depends on the desire to maintain good customer relationships. Another disadvantage of ODR points at the involvement of the human mediator. It can result to an expensive fee with no assurance that the returns will be greater than the cost.

Introducing information technology as a tool for dispute resolution creates several legal issues. These issues tend to vary depending on the nature of the disputes and the legal framework where ODR operates. Despite the differences, there are obvious similar aspects.36 One of the basic methods used in ODR that raises several legal concerns is the transmission of decision. Normally, parties are informed through electronic communication. That part of the process is expected to become problematic as ODR is continues to develop.

All ODR mechanisms are based on the assumption that participants are in agreement with the process. The decisions made by providers will be implemented by the court once absolute agreement is reached by all participants involved.37 Under UK laws, ODR created between two businesses are not restricted. The only limitation in the process is focused on the commercial aspect related to consumer welfare.

The European Union Commission has classified the legal necessities for the operation of ODR providers. It is necessary that the mediator has no binding relationships with the providers. Transparency in the process is also an important aspect that ODR providers need to maintain.38 The EU Commission stipulates that parties have to be allocated with ample opportunities to present their arguments and have accessed to all evidences provided. The consumer or individual has the right to be represented for a minimal fee or even for free. Moreover, the EU Commission maintains that the mediator has to fully participate in the proceedings. The complainants have the capacity to manifest their rights based on their place of originality. The commission further states that the decisions have to binding and participants have to fully accept the verdict before being enforced. Lastly, a third party has to assist the complainants in all stages of the proceedings. These are legal impediments can affect the process of ODR. In some instances, providers are restricted to expand their decisions because these requirements are overlapping their methods.39

There are some aspects that can unintentionally create difficulties for the design and functioning of ODR systems.40 The independence principle, for instances, may prevent the parties from using the preferred decision-maker. The notion of legality posits that decision-makers have to strictly revolve around rules of law of both the place where the provider operates and where the complainants reside. This idea is both unnecessary and complicated.

The enforcement of an agreement is another facet of ODR that is often criticised. Some ODRs lack the legal mandate that all courts of law have. There are also doubts as to the level of commitment that participants have in the decision made. In some situations, mediators suggest unilateral implementation instead of mutual enforcement. Another barrier seen in this process is that consumer laws are not harmonised. In actually, ODR agreements are not necessarily enforceable.41 The agreement of both parties is sufficient to ensure that solutions will be done by parties without biases.

Security and confidentiality are major concerns when manifesting ODR. To address this issue, a third party has to show communication capabilities to ensure that information is well-delivered and comprehended. Moreover, it is needed for the parties learn basic computer applications to limit communication barriers. These necessities clearly show that ODR lacks the backbone that can sustain its efficiency and credibility. When talking about security, the most glaring criticism made against ODR is that it is performed online.42 It is a common notion that the Internet is an insecure medium. There are several hackers that can intercept electronic mails. These hackers can access the information and possibly change the course of the proceedings.

Tools used in ODR

Among mechanisms used in ODR, electronic mail is considered as the most compelling.43 Most providers hand out general rules and information using their websites. The presence of electronic mails allows the requests of participants to be confidential. Using an email allows communication to be fast and easily accessed. In addition, parties prefer negotiations to done without others watching each detail. Most important, electronic mails can be augmented by other conventional forms of communication.

An online platform is normally used by participants and mediators. The provider creates a computer which is linked to the Internet.44 The website is also connected to other pages that instructions and information to concerned parties. The online platform is more of an interactive avenue. It allows participants to post materials, view other postings, and comment on the posts. It is usual for a platform to have tools that promote written communications and deliberations.

Online chat is popular mechanism used in ODR. This scheme allows participants to log in a certain site designed by the provider. Participants are allowed to exchange text messages in a given space. The discussion is synchronised and the parties reply simultaneously after a message is posted. The participants will just type their messages and these will be immediately visible to other parties logged into the chat room.

Threaded discussion board is similar to online chat. The only difference is that a topic is being raised and the mediator is tasked to moderate the comments.45 Aside from the main topic, side topics are also allowed to be answered. Parties can reply to both the main topic and sub topic. Similar to online chat, participants are required to log into the website. Unlike chatting, there is no requirement for parties to be logged in at the same time in message boards.

Some disputes are considered as highly confidential. In these conflicts, segments provide the best option in seeking for a resolution.46 In most segments, providers create three platforms. The first is solely dedicated to the complainants and the mediator, the second is exclusive to the respondents and the mediator, and the third allows all parties to participate. The first two spaces are private and ensure secrecy of tactics. The third room provides an avenue for all the strategies to be discussed until an agreement is reached and agreed by all parties.

Negotiation software is another tool that makes ODR a fast-paced mechanism.47 The software assists the provider in assessing the blind bidding made by the parties. In this scheme, both complainants and respondents are allowed to make successive bids that will resolve their issue. It is important to consider that the bids are monetary in nature. The software computes for the median which the separate bids will try to meet. Once this is realised, the software will reveal to the provider the amount that matched both parties. The amount will be relayed to the participants before an agreement is reached. This proves as an effective method because it is time-saving and eliminates the necessity for a third party intervention.

Issues and Challenges

In UK, lawyers’ fees are based on time spent. This is still prevalent despite the existence of conditional fees. Courts in UK have successfully encouraged the use of ODR. The court system in UK allows parties to resolve their issues outside the confines of the court.48 The Judicial system in the UK has developed policies that warn individuals who refuse to attend out of informal settlements. The government specifically have been promoting ODR by highlighting its benefits such as savings and convenience.

But the UK government’s promotion of ODR has some disadvantages. ODR is viewed as a process that is faster than normal courts. Several UK courts have already installed mechanism to make faster decisions.49 In addition, there is this perception that courts are better because respondents and complainants can make lengthy bargains. Most important, some lawyers think that ODR prevents their growth as professionals. ODR uses systems that reduce human involvement. This means that lawyers’ skills and intervention are minimal.

Awareness of ODR is still considered as low. One of the contributors to the lack of awareness is the unavailability of equipments. In addition, marketing strategies devised by providers are more centred on the professionals instead of the possible clients.50 Marketing efforts are usually done online and interested parties without such connection are excluded from the prospects. The UK government acts to improve awareness through recommendations made by judges on civil and commercial dispute resolutions. Programs are being designed to ensure that all local courts will promote the alternatives dispute resolution, specifically ODR.

Despite the technological revolution, infrastructure is still a main concern for ODR promoters. Internet connection is readily available but the capacity for widespread access is not defined. Aside from the building of infrastructures, there has to be a program that seeks full computer literacy. It is paramount for individuals to have the knowledge on how these technologies operate to ensure that their participation is adequate. Before expanding ODR, there has to be an effort made by all concerned entities to ensure sufficient facilities and know-how.51

One of the most important aspects of ODR is the neutrals. These act as the impartial body that provides insights on the proceedings. It is indeed important that the supply of neutrals ready to provide service. The most important part of this necessity is that neutrals need to have sufficient training to become effective. In the case of mediators, their skills have to be expanded in an immense level.52 It is imperative to note that some issues in ODR are different from disputes settled in traditional court. It is definitely necessary for mediators to be flexible and creative in handling ODR procedures. Once ODR is appreciated, new techniques have to be indentified and skills sets are specialised.

Cooperation is vital in the growth of ODR as a reputable alternative dispute resolution.53 Governments and the private sector have been promoting the expansion of ODR across the globe. One of the most important aspects that have to be reviewed pertains to the rules that govern ODR in certain areas. At present, it is difficult to harmonise ODR into a universal concept. But continuous consultations and meetings by concerned entities will further push ODR into a global success.

It is important that ODR adheres to the laws that govern a specific area. In UK, for instance, the laws have to define the existence and sustenance of ODRs. Conflicts between ODR processes and some laws are common. But these do not signify irony in both aspects. The European Union has drafted several regulations in relation to ODR.54 In civil and commercial disputes, the laws have to guide ODR processes to ensure that the right decisions are made.

Finally, ODR providers have to minimise and eventually eliminate issues of conflicting interests. Some providers are accused of being biased because the mediators suggested one-sided solutions. To protect the credibility of ODRs, it is imperative for providers to select mediators that are free from any obligations.55 Providers have to get rid of mediators who are connected to clients and future prospects.

In using ODR some questions there are some questions that arise.56 These queries are mostly focused on the Internet as a tool that can provide positive resolution. Another concern being raised by critics is that some clients are far from being Internet savvy. As the world becomes smaller and e-commerce evolves more disputes will be resolved online. There are a number of International bodies currently using online dispute resolution. This trend is being boosted by the private sector which has learned to include ODR is their services.

ODR in UK

One of the most prominent ODR service providers in UK is the Mediation Room. The company is under the leadership of Graham Ross who was a retired solicitor and mediator with over 20 years of experience in law and information technology. Ross is also a current member of the United Nations Expert Panel on Online Dispute Resolution. Also part of Ross’ team is known lawyers and legal experts. Mediation Room provides services that use top notch technology at a low cost. The provider assures that its ODR process will maintain personal relationships and protect business interests. Mediation Room values the employee development and ensures continuous updates of online platforms. It also assures credibility in the information that the clients will provide.57

Inter Settle is also another ODR provider that continues to gain wide acceptance. The company aims incorporate the legal marketplace with the dynamics of the Internet. Inter Settle is primary known for its extensive bidding system that allows clients to resolve their disputes in fast times. Most of the disputes being handled by the company are financial in nature. It is the most preferred provider by individuals who have commercial conflicts with firms. The provider has a portal that can be accessed at any time of the day and in any place with Internet connectivity.58

Consensus Mediation is also an up-and-coming ODR provider set-up by Maggie Kennedy. The firm attests that it has already handled more than 15,000 disputes with high level of resolved cases. It is one of the cheapest options online and Consensus Mediation continues to reduce its fees. The company provides a guide to clients as the best process available for their cases. In addition, the provider has a collection of sample cases that were resolved.59

The development of ODR in UK is imminent. The government has been active in promoting out of court settlements instead of choosing the traditional process.60 In addition, several private entities have boosted the Internet connectivity of the country. Aside from commercial related disputes, there are several civil disputes that can be resolved through ODR. The development of ODR has also expanded the legal system in UK. Unlike before processes have been deemed as tenuous. With the presence of ODRs, individuals and groups that have disputes can easily ease the burden on their shoulders. It is expected that ODR is UK because the legal system and technological development works hand in hand for the process.

Since ODR in UK has immensely developed, the expectations of the customers have also increased. Consumers anticipate that information is readily available in the portals used by ODR providers. It is important ODR providers are independent and have no forms of interest from other business entities. In addition, ODR providers have to maintain the level of speed necessary to resolve the cases.61 These requirements along with the usual consumer desire such as affODRability and credibility sum up the expectations that consumers have with ODR’s evolution.

Conclusion

It is undeniable that ODR has tuned from an alternative form of mediation into a preferred dispute process solution. There are several aspects that have aided in ODR’s ascendance. The slow process in traditional courts can be described as a cumbersome endeavour. Moreover, the impact of the Internet is everyday life has also affected views on dispute resolution. It is also important to consider that legal fees have increased. ODR is an alternative that is relatively cheaper because some aspects of traditional process are eliminated. Further, the prominence of the Internet has also contributed to the rising online disputes. Addressing such conflicts online is considered as the best option for concerned parties. These instances and other aspects have pushed ODR forward.

ODR is a process more focused on technology and creativity. Despite criticisms, the scheme has become an important branch of alternative dispute resolution. In UK, the judicial body has been supportive of the developments in ODR. In fact, UK courts have been suggesting individuals and groups to seek alternative dispute resolution. UK courts recognise the advantages of settling conflicts outside their confines. The government meanwhile has been exerting efforts to promote alternative dispute resolution. Boosting infrastructures is one of the steps being taken by the government. It is expected that the legislative body will study possibilities of transforming ODR into a legal process.

Challenges and criticisms will always hinder the development of ODR. The system has yet to establish a reputation similar to traditional courts. Moreover, ODR techniques constantly evolve such that providers have to be updated with changes in the procedures. Another valid criticism raised against ODR is that Internet connectivity is still absent in some areas. Amidst all these realities, ODR is expected to grow in a rapid phase. There are a number of providers expanding their services and others consider ODR as a good investment.

Bibliography

Barnett, J. (2003). Proceedings of the UNECE Forum on ODR, “The virtual courtroom and online dispute resolution.” Web.

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Hamill, S. (2006). Online Dispute Resolution. Web.

Heiskanen, V. (1999). Journal of International Arbitration. “Dispute resolution in International electronic commerce.” Pp. 29-44.

Hornle, J. (2004). JISC Legal Briefing Paper: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). JISC Legal Information. Pp. 5-20.

Katsh, E. (2006). Lex Electronica. “Online resolution: Some implications for the emergence of law in cyberspace.” Pp. 3-20.

Katsh, E and Rifkin, J. (2001). Online Dispute Resolution: Resolving Disputes in the Cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pp. 5-37.

Lederer, F. (1997). Reform. “The Courtroom as a stop on the information superhighway.” Pp. 4-15.

Manevy, I. (2001). Online Dispute Resolution: What Future? Paris, France: University of Paris. Pp. 13-14.

Nohan-Halley, J. M. (1992). Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing. Pp. 59-60.

Ross, G. (2004). Vindobona Journal of International Commercial Law and Arbitration. “Online dispute resolution and business.” Pp. 8-20.

Schultz, T. (2004). North Carolina Journal for Law and Technology. “Does online dispute resolution need government intervention? The case for architectures of control and trust.” Pp. 73-75.

Thornburg, E.G. (2000). Davis Law Review. “Going private: Technology, due process, and internet dispute resolution.” Pp. 153-188.

Consumers International. (2000) Disputes in Cyberspace. Pp. 23-24.

InterSettle. (2007). About Us. Web.

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Footnotes

  1. Katsh, E and Rifkin, J. (2001). Online Dispute Resolution: Resolving Disputes in the Cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Pp. 5-37.
  2. Ross, G. (2004). Vindobona Journal of International Commercial Law and Arbitration. “Online dispute resolution and business.” Pp. 8-20.
  3. Schultz, T. (2004). North Carolina Journal for Law and Technology. “Does online dispute resolution need government intervention? The case for architectures of control and trust.” Pp. 73-75.
  4. Nohan-Halley, J. M. (1992). Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Nutshell. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing. Pp. 59-60.
  5. Manevy, I. (2001). Online Dispute Resolution: What Future? Paris, France: University of Paris. Pp. 13-14.
  6. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 14.
  7. Ibid. Pp. 14-17.
  8. Consumers International. (2000) Disputes in Cyberspace. Pp. 23-24.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Heiskanen, V. (1999). Journal of International Arbitration. “Dispute resolution in International electronic commerce.” Pp. 29-44.
  11. Heiskanen, V. Loc. Cit. Pp. 35-57.
  12. Thornburg, E.G. (2000). Davis Law Review. “Going private: Technology, due process, and internet dispute resolution.” Pp. 153-188.
  13. Thornburg, E.G. Ibid. Pp. 153-200.
  14. Ibid. 177-220.
  15. Thornburg, E.G. Loc Cit. Pp. 190-235.
  16. Katsh, E. (2006). Lex Electronica. “Online resolution: Some implications for the emergence of law in cyberspace.” Pp. 3-4.
  17. Lederer, F. (1997). Reform. “The Courtroom as a stop on the information superhighway.” Pp. 4.
  18. Barnett, J. (2003). Proceedings of the UNECE Forum on ODR, “The virtual courtroom and online dispute resolution.” Web.
  19. Katsh, E. Loc. Cit. Pp. 4-7.
  20. Katsh, E. Pp. 5-6
  21. Hornle, J. (2004). JISC Legal Briefing Paper: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). JISC Legal Information. Pp. 5.
  22. Ibid. Pp. 5.
  23. Hornle, J. Loc. Cit. Pp. 6.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Hornle, J. Loc. Cit. Pp. 7-8.
  26. Ibid. Pp. 6-7.
  27. Ibid. Pp. 7-8
  28. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 46.
  29. Ibid. Pp. 46-47.
  30. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 47.
  31. Ibid. Pp. 47-48.
  32. Ibid. Pp. 48-50.
  33. Choi, D. (2006) Online Dispute Resolution: Issues and Future Directions. Web.
  34. Ibid.
  35. Hamill, S. (2006). Online Dispute Resolution. Web.
  36. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 22.
  37. Ibid. Pp. 22.
  38. Ibid. Pp. 22-23.
  39. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 23.
  40. Ibid. Pp. 24.
  41. Manevy, I. Loc. Cit. Pp. 24-25.
  42. Ibid. Pp. 25-26.
  43. Hornle, J. Loc. Cit. Pp. 8.
  44. Hornle, J. Loc. Cit. Pp. 8.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Ibid. Pp. 9.
  47. Hornle, J. Loc. Cit. Pp. 9.
  48. Ross, G. Loc. Cit. Pp. 3.
  49. Ross, G. Loc. Cit. Pp. 3.
  50. Ibid. Pp. 4.
  51. Ross, G. Loc. Cit. Pp. 4.
  52. Ibid. Pp. 5.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Ross, G. Loc. Cit. Pp. 5.
  55. Ibid.
  56. Hamill, S. Loc. Cit.
  57. Mediation Room. (2007). About Us. Web.
  58. InterSettle. (2007). About Us. Web.
  59. Venables. (2007). Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Web.
  60. Ross, G. Loc. Cit. Pp. 9-11.
  61. Bygrave, L.A. (2002). Online Dispute Resolution – What it Means to Consumers. Sydney: University of New South Wales. Pp. 3-4.
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