Chennai plays host to the 10th Online Dispute Resolution Conference

7th Feb 2011
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United Nations Online Dispute Resolution Working Group holds first meeting in India

The three-day 10th International Online Dispute Resolution Conference sponsored by eBay India, India’s leading eCommerce Marketplace, and PayPal in association with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) started today at Chennai. It is the first time ever that this conference has been organized in India. ODR 2011 is held under the aegis of the United Nations Online Dispute Resolution Working Group and brings together experts in law, technology and conflict resolution from around the world.

The agenda for the first day of ODR 2011 included the introduction of ODR, sharing of best practices, research and different modes of implementing the concept of ODR. It emphasized on the revolution that it is set to bring about and how it will affect private companies, judicial systems, and global access to justice, going forward.

Mr. Johnston S. Barkat, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations, Ombudsman & Mediation Services, delivered the keynote address. Ethan Katsh, Professor at Yale University, Massachusetts, who initiated the concept of ODR, presented an introduction. Colin Rule, Director, Online Dispute Resolution for eBay & PayPal introduced the concept of ODR while Chittu Nagarajan, Head Community Courts of eBay & PayPal and chair of this conference, delivered the welcome address.

The first day of the conference saw more than 300 people, and presentations on various topics such as ODR for consumer protection, ODR systems being built to handle IP and privacy disputes, and how courts around the world are looking to ODR to help with their backlogs. The speakers also mentioned that ODR is poised to handle millions more cases than it currently manages.

Explaining the concept of ODR, Collin Rule said, “ODR is the use of information and communication technology to help people resolve their problem not only related to eCommerce but any sector that has an online arm. ODR is not the only tool necessary to create trust in transactions, but without it, online trust is impossible to sustain. At the rate that items or services are being bought and sold over the internet and mobile devices, it is becoming vital to redress systems and make it readily available to online consumer.

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Ethan Katsh stated that, ”It is not bound by geography as against a judicial resolution as the human interface is not a required factor.” Talking about India as a key market, Chittu Nagarajan said, “Online Dispute Resolution in India is in its infancy stage. However, India is moving forward. eBay has been the pioneers of ODR in India. Many companies see customer complaints as an annoyance. They make it difficult for their buyers to report issues, and once they are reported, they drag their feet in addressing the buyer’s complaint. On the contrary, eBay India has always had a different approach. It has set up a community forum which is primarily a discussion forum, in which the company talks about its new initiatives, the buyers and sellers can post their feedback and participate in various chats.”

To conclude from the first day, in keeping with the fact that more and more people are going online (eCommerce, rise of social media etc), ODR will witness tremendous growth in next couple of years. These are the defining days of this industry. Also, with the current mobile technology boom in India, it undoubtedly is the next big thing in the ODR space.

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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