WHAT IS ONLINE MEDIATION?
Mediation is one of the form of Alternate Dispute Resolution method where the parties to the dispute choose to settle their dispute by avoiding technicalities of court procedure and instead appoint a neutral third party who mediates and facilitates communication between them to resolve their issue. Online Mediation is quite similar to the usual form of mediation with the only point of difference being that in online mediation the parties to the dispute and mediator do not engage in a face to face communication but instead communicate with the help of various virtual platform.
The procedure of Online mediation is akin to the procedure followed by regular mediation. In Online mediation, usually, the parties submit the details of their dispute to any official site which handles such cases who then provides the services of a trained mediator. The mediator conducts the procedure in a similar manner to the normal mediation with the only difference the whole procedure is conducted with the help of encrypted chat boxes, e-mails and in some cases through video conferences. If the mediation procedure and lengthy negotiations prove to be successful, the parties draw a settlement agreement that has a binding effect similar to that of any other contract or agreement. The details of the party and issue are kept strictly confidential and procedure and conducted through secured platforms which help maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of the parties.
Core issues with Online Mediation
- Facilitate communication:
In the process of Online mediation, it is a very difficult task for the mediator to establish effective communication between the parties, as there is no real face to face interaction. The parties have had no real relationship or communication, as opposed to normal mediation which is why there is no background for the mediator to act upon. Thus, establishing a connection, steering the emotions and dialogue of negotiation becomes a difficult task for the mediator.
- Privacy and confidentiality:
One of the most crucial edge that ADR has against the traditional court procedure is the level of secrecy and confidentiality that the parties can keep in relation to their dispute. This added advantage of ADR over court proceedings is somewhat diluted in the procedure of online mediation. As the mediation is conducted through virtual space, the question of security of the data and information becomes a prime question. With the web world expanding, the ways to gain illegal control through hacking, stealing and data leaks are also becoming prominent and therefore these imminent threats degrade the reliability of this process.
In offline mediation, the parties interact with the mediator who facilitates communication between them and through negotiations and discussions arrive to a solution where the parties usually sign a settlement agreement that becomes binding on the parties. in Online mediation, there is high level of obscurity in relation to which law really applies and what are the rules of mediation. In such a case, the parties to the dispute often do not comply with the final decision of mediation and even the mediator or the organization or any other body finds it difficult to enforce compliance.