ODR is the resolution of disputes, particularly medium and small value cases, using digital technology and techniques of alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, negotiation, and arbitration. While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more scalable, effective, and collaborative mechanisms of resolution and containment are needed urgently. ODR can help resolve disputes efficiently and affordably.
Senior judges of the Supreme Court, secretaries from key government ministries, legal experts, leaders of industries, and general counsels of leading enterprises, explored the specifics and opportunities of what lies ahead for ODR.
On June 6, 2020, Niti Aayog in partnership with Omidyar Network India and Agami hosted the first-ever key stakeholder meeting to advance Online Dispute Resolution in India.
The purpose of the meeting was to explore Online Dispute Resolution to contain and resolve disputes, before they enter formal court processes as a way to enhance access to justice and ease of doing business, by seeing dispute resolution as being one of the key facets to the revival of the economy post the pandemic crisis.
Parameters of ODR:
Technology to promote user confidence in the process
Bring into picture elements of design thinking to understand user needs for an ODR platform
Employ data management tools to ensure predictability, transparency, consistency, and efficiency of the judicial process.
The aim is to provide an affordable, effective and accessible ODR and the concern remains how can various stakeholders and the Government facilitate ODR.
At a time when technology plays a huge role, ODR is much more than just replicating the existing process of ADR online. The objective is to resolve and contain disputes and also using analytical insights.
ODR which was at an infancy stage in India has now acquired importance due to the COVID19 pandemic.
ODR will provide expeditious resolution of disputes. Further, it is far less expensive, and economical as well.
As of now, India has followed the opt-in model. It means that option of going into mediation is voluntary. The Italian model is the opt-out model. Here, it is mandatory to enter into mediation for at least one session, and then the parties have the liberty to opt-out if they feel so.
A hybrid of the two would be more successful in India, because the opt-in model may defeat the purpose of mediation. It should be made mandatory and should cover about three sessions, otherwise, the parties may treat it as a mere formality, and opt-out after the first session is over. A hybrid of the opt-in opt-out model may work better for India.
This article does not intend to hurt the sentiments of any individual, community, sect, or religion, etcetera. This article is based purely on the author’s personal opinion and views in the exercise of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19(1)(A) and other related laws being enforced in India for the time being.