Current Developments in Technology and ODR Explored

By Halket, Thomas D. | Dispute Resolution Journal, May-July 2012 | Go to article overview

Current Developments in Technology and ODR Explored


Halket, Thomas D., Dispute Resolution Journal


Current Developments in Technology and ODR Explored Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice A Treatise on Technology and ODR Mohamed S. Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsh and Daniel Rainey, editors The Netherlands: Eleven International Publishing (www.elevenpub.com). Hardcover. euro 95,00. 571 pages. Available as an ebook. euro 86,00.

Online dispute resolution-or ODR as it is commonly known-is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not the resolution of online disputes-namely disputes arising from transactions that take place on the Internet-although those disputes are often considered good examples of the disputes that may be well handled by ODR. Rather, ODR is the resolution of disputes through the use, in whole or in part, of some aspect of online pro - cesses. Nevertheless, beyond that simple concept, there are, as the in - troduction to this book observes, diverse opinions on the exact definition of ODR.

For example, there is no agreement over the way the online process must impact the resolution process. Some believe ODR is restricted to dispute resolution mechanisms that are online-based, while others would include dispute resolution mechanisms in ODR if they are just facilitated by the use of an online process, or even only assisted by it. This distinction is not without some consequence as one could reasonably argue that e-mail service and filing of papers in an arbitration suffices to meet the assistance test. Since e-mail filing and service are fairly common in at least medium to large commercial arbitrations, it would follow that ODR could have a far wider sweep than may be commonly as sumed.

Another example of an area of disagreement over the definition of ODR is whether it includes dispute prevention processes in ad - dition to resolution pro - cesses (The same question could, of course, be asked about the entire field of alternative dispute resolution.)

However it is defined, ODR has had a relatively short history. It is only about 15 years old. Although the early ODR processes could hardly be described as successes, ODR has grown along with the burgeoning Internet and the development of new ways to access it (e.g., smart phones). Consequently, traditional ADR organizations have shown significant and growing interest in ODR. The book lists at least 60 such organizations as "existing ODR pro viders," including the American Arbitration Association, the Inter national Chamber of Com - merce and the World Intel lectual Property Organization. Major efforts are also under way by the UNCITRAL Working Group on Online Dispute Resolution to craftnorms for the online resolution of cross-border consumer disputes.

Against this background, this book, made up of 24 chapters, each written by a different author or authors (in - cluding the editors), delves into many significant aspects of ODR, some of which involve disparate disciplines. As the book notes, its chapters logically fall into two core parts.

The first part contains topics relating to the implementation and em ployment of ODR generally. The book starts with a history of ODR written by co-editor Ethan Katsh (a professor of legal studies and director of the UMass Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution). …

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