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Online Dispute Resolution – A Technological Step In The Legal Field

As we are living in the era of science and technology, it has become an essential part of our lives. It has introduced us to modern civilization and helped in the development of our country. From the moment being hit by a global pandemic, we are witnessing daily challenges in carrying out day to day work by following the social distancing norm and lockdown. COVID-19 has been such a situation that has made us bend towards taking 100% advantage of the technology available in every field.


The Indian Judiciary system is well versed with the traditional litigation method for the resolution of disputes. The courts in the country are burdened with several cases pending each day and the COVID-19 situation is making it even worse. The simple solution to this problem is urging litigants to opt for Alternative Dispute Resolution wherever possible. In the current situation, the Supreme Court has allowed the online hearing and filing of cases, but we cannot ignore the fact that the judiciary is heavily burdened and clogged with tons of cases. The Online Dispute Resolution is an improvised and efficient solution to ease the court procedure by maintaining the norms laid down, owing to the pandemic.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a perfect mixture of technology and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism. ODR covers disputes through the internet, i.e. online that is being initiated in cyberspace with a source outside it i.e. offline. Arbitration is one of the most recognized forms of ADR but with time this method itself has become complex and expensive. ODR is a faster, transparent, and accessible option for resolving disputes of high volume and low volume cases. Online dispute resolution is a new step here, as in the past half-decade, India has learned how to make things accessible online, be it online transactions, shopping, virtual gatherings. No other position would be more convenient to accept ODR as an efficient mechanism to resolve disputes and hence implement a fast and fair dispute resolution system.

The functioning of the ODR mechanism


ODR is seen as an online equivalent of ADR as it includes Arbitration, mediation, or negotiation for dispute resolution.

  • Parties communicate with each other in real-time by using different reliable video-conferencing applications; it is a Synchronous ODR method.

  • The Asynchronous method of ODR is the one where parties communicate with each other through e-mails or other such sources and are not conducted in real-time.

  • Online mediation has received widespread acceptance and has become the most favourable method of resolving disputes online. Here, it begins by sending an e-mail to the parties with basic information of the proceedings, which is followed by a virtual meeting to be conducted in the chat room. 70% of the ODR platforms have been using this method to conclude.

  • Online Arbitration is less favoured but it covers up the process up to a certain extent.

  • Every method of ODR is unique and efficient in itself and the best part about this machine is that it can be tailored as per the needs of the parties.


Pros and Cons of ODR


Pros: -

  1. It allows the parties and the mediator to assemble each on their screen though miles away.

  2. It gives parties and the lawyer both the opportunity to put forward their points.

  3. It is a flexible process as the mediator or arbitrator can be a click shift of the other party to the virtual room.

  4. It is the convenient, cost-effective, and systematic use of time.

  5. It cuts down the chances of face to face confrontation and emotional overhaul.

Cons: -

  1. The confidentiality of the parties is at risk since the meeting might be recorded.

  2. Poor quality of internet or network issues might cause a problem in communicating the points by the parties to each other and their lawyers.

  3. Manipulation of witness.

  4. There is a perception that the underprivileged might be ignored through this method as they cannot afford usage of the internet or assistance for the usage of the same. This is similar to the denial of access to justice.

Conclusion


Globally ODR witnessed widespread recognition when e-commerce sectors started resolving their disputes online. Countries like the US, China, Brazil, and some European nations have already adopted ODR at a large scale, providing a separate platform for it. The virtual courts have been playing a very significant role in the past few months, helping in modernizing the judiciary, speedy resolution of pending cases, hassle-free proceedings, and speedy delivery of Justice. In India, ODR is still at the infancy stage but it is just a matter of time before we accept it as a full-fledged system.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ms Nupur U Shah is a Final Year B.L.S/LL.B student at Pravin Gandhi College of Law (Mumbai University).

They can be contacted at nupurshah897@gmail.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/nupur-shah-624149103/

Edited By: Swathi. Ashok. Nair

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