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Dispute resolution in the wake of COVID-19

The unprecedented outbreak of the global pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and nearly all sectors are bearing the brunt of it, not to mention the world economy is falling. This article brings forth the impact of the virus on the legal sector while demonstrates the use of online dispute resolution as a solution to deal with this global crisis.

The rising popularity of ADR can be explained by the increasing caseload of traditional courts, the perception that ADR imposes fewer costs than litigation, a preference for confidentiality, and the desire of some parties to have greater control over the selection of the individual or individuals who will decide their dispute. The Government of India has been very serious about the settlement of disputes outside the courts which led to the enactment of section 89 in CPC was by way of an amendment in 1999, being brought into force with effect from 1 July 2002. This section was introduced for the first time to settle disputes outside the court with the objective of providing speedy justice and hence it is now mandatory for the court to refer a dispute after the issues have been framed for settlement either by way of:

1) Arbitration

2) Conciliation

3) The judicial settlement, including settlement through Lok Adalat; or

4) Mediation.


Online Dispute Resolution is a branch of alternate dispute resolution, concerned with the uses of technology for resolving disputes between parties. It basically involves arbitration, mediation, negotiation, or combines all these three. Acknowledging this new development, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center is developing an online internet-based system for administering disputes.

ODR functions on the metrics as framed by the parties which are encapsulated in a binding agreement and thereby the issue of “jurisdiction” is not prompted. This process would not only save time and cost but also reputation, online litigation/court hearings are subjected to the issue of “transparency” and thereby there has been a demand for live-streaming of cases which if conceded can harm one's goodwill. Whereas, in case of dispute resolution the parties can mutually agree to keep the information disclosed during the process “confidential”. The final outcome can also be made private if the parties so stipulate and agree, on the other hand, most trials and related proceedings are open to the public and the press. Business Tycoons like Anil and Mukesh Ambani, had no financial barriers still opted for mediation over litigation during the distribution of their business. Furthermore, in the case of arbitration, the parties have far more flexibility in choosing rules as well as the process for instance hybrid processes such as ‘Med-Arb’ can be opted wherein the parties allow the same person to first mediate, and if that is unsuccessful, then arbitrate a dispute.

The parties can also have their dispute arbitrated or mediated by a person who is an expert in the relevant field. In an ordinary trial involving complicated and technical issues that are not understood by many people outside a relevant industry, a great deal of time has to be spent educating the judge and jury, just so they can make an informed decision. In this way, the focus can be on the substantive issues involved rather than on technical procedural rules. Parties may have an option to identify the types of remedies that the arbitrator may offer, including all damages, specific relief performance, injunctions, and other equitable remedies.


Priyanshi Sarin is currently a 3rd year Law Student at the Symbiosis Law Pune, Pune

You can contact them at- http://linkedin.com/in/priyanshi-sarin-68b591163

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