ODR is a method which talks about resolving legal disputes in an online medium. The abbreviation stands for Online Dispute Resolution.
Okay. So, what the hell is it? No need for courts? No need to get a lawyer? Then, why am I studying in a National law School?
Wait a second. Hold your breath. Calm down. The concept is new. Not literally new- the U.S.A. is still grappling to come to terms with it, so, not very surprisingly, there exists practically no awareness about it in India. Let’s break it into three parts.
By this, we do not mean logging onto Facebook and getting your judgement through the number of likes. No. It means using technology. Mobiles. Emails. Anything related to the Internet. Making use of the fact that we are already twenty percent wired, with better days to come.
Simply put, it is resolving disputes through ICT, i.e, Information and Communication technology.
What is the nature of disputes? Whether low cost disputes or high cost disputes? Disputes which take place only in an online environment? For example, disputes related to E-commerce websites such as Flipkart, Snapdeal etc? Or does it cover offline disputes as well? If offline disputes, then does it include both civil and criminal?
There is no answer to this. There are some disputes which are more suitable for online resolution and there are some which are less. We will deal with this topic in our next blog.
But the vision is to bring all kinds of disputes, both offline and online, under the purview of online resolution either completely or partially.
Now we come to the most important aspect. How are we going to resolve the dispute? What is the method? We will have an online portal that can be seen on three levels. There are other methods of resolution as well.
1) Tier One of the ODR model shall provide Online Evaluation.
This facility will help users with a grievance to classify and categorize their problem, to be aware of their rights and obligations, and to understand the options and remedies available to them.
2) Tier Two of the model shall provide Online Facilitation.
To bring a dispute to a speedy, fair conclusion without the involvement of judges, this service will provide online facilitators. Communicating via the Internet, these individuals will review papers and statements and help parties through mediation and negotiation. They will be supported where necessary, by video conferencing facilities. Additionally, they will be assisted by some automated negotiation mechanisms, which are systems that help parties resolve their differences without the intervention of human experts.
3) Tier Three of the model shall provide Online Arbitration.
There will be certified arbitrators who will decide suitable cases or parts of cases on an online forum largely on the basis of papers submitted to them electronically as part of a structured process of online pleading. This process will again be supported, where necessary, by video conferencing facilities.
This method is recommended by the Civil Justice Council’s Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group in the UK for low value civil claims.
This is a basic summary of online dispute resolution.
(For a better understanding of ODR, checkout this video!)