top of page
  • Jharna Jagtiani

A New Era of Dispute Resolution: Exploring Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)

Updated: Nov 19, 2023


ODR: Virtual dispute resolution gaining momentum amid pandemic. A promising future with wider acceptance and efficiency.

The amalgamation of the online medium with Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has given rise to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). ODR offers a virtual platform to resolve conflicts between parties without resorting to litigation. With the increasing impact of COVID-19, ODR has emerged as a new way to achieve dispute resolution efficiently.


In simpler terms, ODR is a branch of ADR that utilizes virtual platforms to address disputes between concerned parties. Various conflict settlement tools, such as e-Negotiation, e-Conciliation, e-Mediation, and e-Arbitration, as well as hybrid methods like Medola, Mini-Tribunal, Med-Arb, Fast Track Arbitration, Impartial Listener Arrangement, Rent a Judge, and Concilio-Arbitration, contribute to the application of ODR.


The paradigm shift towards ODR has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has necessitated alternative modes of conflict resolution. ODR not only proves to be viable and safe, but it also offers cost-efficient solutions, especially for disputes involving international parties or complex circumstances.


The Evolution of ODR:

The concept of ODR started taking shape around the 2000s. The Internet's commercial use was initially prohibited by the National Science Foundation of the United States, but with the ban lifted, the World Wide Web was invented. The rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in the early 2000s led to an increased interest in Intellectual Property Rights, giving impetus to the development of ODR.


Although attempts to formalize ODR were made earlier, significant progress began in 1996 with the 'Virtual Magistrate' project, focusing on Online Arbitration. ODR service providers gradually emerged, actively managing public and private conflicts between government and commercial organizations since 1999. In India, organizations like Perry4Law, NIXI (.IN domain), and TLCEODRI pioneered ODR in 1999. Legal recognition for ODR was provided through Section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, Order X Rule 1A, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.


The Current Scenario:

With over 3 crore cases pending in courts and the impact of the pandemic, ODR has become a viable option for dispute settlement. Even courts are now conducting virtual proceedings in some countries. The Supreme Court of India acknowledged the merit of ODR in a suo motu Writ Petition titled 'Expeditious trial of cases under Section 138 of N. I. Act, 1881.' NITI Aayog, along with legal experts and Supreme Court judges, has been actively discussing ways to advance ODR practices in India and ensure successful implementation.


Challenges:

Despite its appeal, ODR faces challenges in India. The lack of infrastructure, inadequate technical advancement, scarcity of arbitrators and mediators, and limited internet penetration are some of the major issues. The absence of ADR training for lawyers hampers the widespread acceptance of ODR. Security and user-friendliness are crucial factors in the transition to virtual proceedings.


Future Developments:

To realize the full potential of ODR, advanced systems should process a high volume of disputes with the aid of Artificial Intelligence and automated decision-making algorithms. Integrating digital objects into e-commerce workflows can enable ODR systems to conclusively determine if contractual obligations have been met.


Conclusion:

ODR needs to be embraced and promoted as a viable and efficient method of dispute resolution. Raising awareness through education, social media, campaigns, and workshops is essential to ensure widespread knowledge and acceptance of ODR. By addressing challenges and fostering international cooperation, ODR can pave the way for a faster and more effective justice delivery system. The stride towards ODR is indeed concrete and promising.

Comments


bottom of page