The current online dispute resolution law is fairly complicated. However, this complication is purely on the ground there isn’t any universal consensus in the ideal method of operation, for the resolution of disputes online. For this reason, cases that do not address the technological state of things in the judicial process globally, fall short of the fast-paced expectations of vast majority of the population. Instead, what we see now in the resolution of disputes online, are inadequacies of dispute resolution in a forward – looking world, which are being addressed by various  platforms such Modria.

Interestingly, there has been significant support for a new EU ODR framework amongst ”many stakeholders”. Whilst there has been support, some have voiced their reservations stating that ODR framework would act as a catalyst for consumers to use the conventional ADR mechanisms for the resolution of disputes, and not the resolution of disputes online. However, if consumers opt for the ADR conventional means in the resolution of disputes, as opposed to the use of ODR platforms which is the sole objective of ODR, this invariably will defeat the sole objective of ODR as a form of dispute resolution.

Recently, the UK government agreed with stakeholders, that the notion ODR may not be entirely clear to consumers, thereby offering limited benefits to its users. In order to avoid confusion and mislead consumers, the UK government sought the European Commission for extensive clarifications on grey areas on the immense benefits of ODR.  Accordingly, in a communique “The UK Government will seek an agreement from other Member States to amendments to enable the proposals to deliver real benefits whilst reducing the risk of consumer confusion and unnecessary costs.”

In December 2011, there was a proposal by the European Commission for an online dispute resolution platform which would be free, through which traders and consumers alike can easily resolve disputes that occur over online transactions.  Under the proposed scheme, either the traders or consumers could submit their complainants to the online dispute resolution platform, which will be determined by the relevant body within a 30 day period.

Many stakeholders were happy with this proposal, and hailed it as an indication of the triumph and acknowledgement of online dispute resolution in the dispute process.

The UK government promised to ensure respect for the EU proposals, and at the same time make sure that it does not stop schemes in place in the UK from forging an appropriate ODR platform. More so, where businesses are expected to use certain ADR providers in the resolution of disputes,there would be an encouragement, and at the same time a suggestion for the use of an ODR platform even when the grievance is from a consumer in another Member State.

The EU ODR platform will help in the resolution of disputes, with regards to cross-border online sale of goods and provision of services from e-commerce transactions. Consumers are encouraged to submit their complaints in their own language. This thankfully is free of charge. However, the ODR process may require some payment, for which two ODR facilitators per Member State will be assigned to the European Consumer Centres to assist parties with technical and language support, more like a technical support team.

With all these proposals and schemes in place, it definitely shows the direction of online dispute resolution in the dispute resolution process. One which is unmistakably important, faster, and useful today.

 

Does the resolution of your disputes/conflicts online sound feasible?