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10th International Online Dispute Resolution Conference: Need to build awareness for ODR

Team YS
8th Feb 2011
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ODR

The second day of the 10th Online Dispute Resolution Conference saw another high impact interactive session. Experts from various fields called on the industry to work harder and build benchmarks at the discussions on day two of the conference.Some of the day’s eminent speakers were Prof. Ethan Katsh, Professor at Yale University, Massachusetts, Dr. V Vijayakumar, Vice Chancellor, Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Tamil Nadu, Mr. J.K. Tripathy, IGP, Tamil Nadu, Mr. M.P. Vasimalai, Executive Director, Dhan Foundation, Mr. Jin Ho Verdonschot, Researcher, Tilburg Institute for the Interdisciplinary Studies of Civil Law and Conflict Resolution (TISCO), and Mr. Rahul Cherian, co-founder, Inclusive Planet.

The discussion covered various topics such as Online Dispute Resolution and the Government, ODR and Customer Support, How law enforcement within the country is using ODR as a tool to combat community concerns, ODR as a tool to conquer disabilities and its role in developing countries among others.

Highlights of the sessions:

ODR and Government

In order to reduce the backlogs of the number of cases filed and to control the petitions made by citizens online, it is important for the government to take responsible measures to resolve issues amicably. To do so, the government must take accountability for the action of its citizens and should undertake interdisciplinary research to change the online dialogue skills. It is important for the government to empathize, get a perspective of the problem and set aside any form of bias while reflecting on the quality of dialogue and resolving disputes.

Microjustice and ODR

Microjustice helps consumers establish contact with their opponent and assisting the parties with negotiation and mediation skills. Besides information about formal rights, it informs the citizen systematically about what they can expect as an outcome, and how others solved similar disputes. If the parties do not agree, Microjustice may also organize a low cost neutral intervention for them. Stabilization of the relationship is made more likely by standard settlement-contracts that make the future relationship explicit. Microjustice dispute resolution consists of a mixture of improvement in communication, facilitation of negotiations, organization of incentives for both parties to cooperate with the process, fact-finding, establishment of norms for distributive justice, decisions on issues that split the parties and, coordination of enforcement.

ODR in the Developing World

The increase and indispensability of information and communications technology in the developed and developing world represent significant opportunities for access to justice by buyers and sellers including commercial transactions conducted online. Online dispute resolution is gaining new momentum with consumers taking up tp the more social media platforms such as mobile phones, internet, radio and other form of communication and thus enabling a new tool for the justice system.

ODR and Disabilities

ODR is an essential tool for the disabled especially those who are visually impaired. The use of technology has empowered those who are visually challenged to overcome the obstacles. For e.g. by using the technology called Screen-Reader, it helps the consumer to navigate across a website with as much ease as a person with vision. Government should take some measures and draw guidelines which would make it easier for these consumers to operate the interface. Accessibility must be built into ODR which is cheap and readily available.

Need to create awareness for ODR

ODR systems have been available and discussed in one form or another for a number of years and yet have not, so far, been used efficiently by many businesses to a great extent. The reason thus lies in the challenge of generating awareness and detailed knowledge and to build confidence in its use - that is presented by any new technology. E.g. use of mobile phones through 3G technology. Identifying and promoting the advantages of ODR will help in the running of any business and incorporating the best of existing traditions of alternative dispute resolution, which will lead to quick solutions going forward.

International Consumer Issue Resolution: the US Federal Trade Commission Perspective

With eCommerce fast gaining importance, ICPEN has established a mechanism in the USA that will help protect consumers worldwide. The goal of this initiative largely, is generating and sharing information and intelligence on consumer protection issues. Owing to increase in Cross Border Transaction, trade is globalized and hence the happenings in a particular country eventually affect the other countries in a way. Under ICPEN there is a subgroup called econsumer.gov, a portal developed wherein consumers can register complaints. eConsumer.gov then takes action and thereby enforces law against companies who are violating the laws. India is rated at No.6 on consumer complaints on econsumer.gov.

Panel discussion on The UNCITRAL ODR Working group

The discussion showcased the workgroup that has been appointed to discuss a proposal that could give speedy solutions for eCommerce transactions globally. This 5 day meeting that was held in Indiana highlighted the need for fast track procedure, simple legal framework that non lawyers will comprehend. The panellists threw the floor open for any suggestions/questions that the workgroup could include in the proposal if they deem fit.

About ODR 2011

Chennai, India, serves as the host city for the 2011 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution.

This conference brings together the world's leading practitioners, academics, theorists, and online negotiation application developers, to share information, and to create a vehicle for ODR education.

The forum in Chennai builds on the research, applications and field development discussed at other international ODR meetings and workshops held in Geneva (2002 and 2003), Edinburgh (2003), Melbourne (2004), Bologna (2005), Brussels (2005), Cairo (2006), Palo Alto (2007), Liverpool (2007) and Hong Kong (2007), Victoria (2008), Haifa (2009), Vienna (2010), and Buenos Aires (2010).

The three day conference consists of plenary sessions and breakout sessions. The world's leading ODR practitioners, academics, students, and civil society organizations come together to discuss the resolution of disputes using online technologies. These disputes may range from B2C (Business to consumer) to the prevention of human rights violations in conflict regions, to reconciliation of opposing groups in armed conflict, to disputes over intellectual property on the internet. It also brings together the leading technology developers who design conflict resolution platforms for use legal, commercial, or insurance related disputes.

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