The continuous movement of people, goods and services have been hailed as the hallmark of the modern times. One embraced and encouraged by both public and private sectors of the society.

The flexibility ADR and ODR in resolving disputes cannot be underestimated, simply because of its universal acceptance, and cost effectiveness.

ADR deals with resolving disputes, purely to avoid litigation; while ODR is the use of processes and techniques in the resolution of disputes using information technology. ODR in recent years identifies mostly with consumer disputes in the form of e-commerce.

ADR relies on face to face contact for the resolution of disputes, while ODR relies obviously on internet-technology tools.

In view of the similarities  seen in ADR and ODR in the resolution of disputes, it comes as no surprise that these form of dispute resolution are both gaining momentum in both developed and developing countries. ADR is an accepted well established technique in the resolution of disputes. ODR, on the other hand represents the use of ADR processes and information technology. This is in the reliance in technology, usually the internet.

ODR has been instrumental in the resolution of consumer disputes within the private sector, though yet to be endorsed as a form of practice by mainstream governmental bodies. Major private institutions such as eBay, PayPal have both become pace setters of ODR in the resolution of disputes This is with an acclaimed use of the ODR systems in the resolution of consumer disputes in an upscale of over 60 million disputes annually.

Surprisingly, ODR remains a procedure that has failed to keep pace with the rapid growth in e-commerce. Interestingly, within Europe e-commerce’s growth has not impressed technology enthusiasts. Within Europe, where e-commerce growth has lagged behind, compared to some other regions 50% in UK, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands reportedly bought goods or services over the Internet in 2011. However, in previous year 2010, only 5% of European consumers used any ADR process to resolve a dispute. In 2011, there was an increase in the use of ADR processes for the resolution, which has been seen as the rise in awareness and acceptability.

Similarly, only 9% of businesses reported ever using ADR.  This onward growth of ADR has had an impact on ODR. This has continued despite the fact that ODR represents an easy, affordable and simple way to resolve disputes that arise out of online transactions.  For consumers, ODR can provide redress for problems that come up when litigation is not a viable option. For consumers, it will definitely increase trust, improve reputation and allow for rapid and fair handling of complaints, unpaid invoices and other unwelcome business distractions.

ODR is the new frontier in dispute resolution in an internet age.

Do you think like I do, ODR has its place in the dispute resolution process?