Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) covers electronic forms of out-of-court dispute resolution. Its definition includes dispute settlement processes which have gone online in their entirety or partially, hence the extent to which means of electronic communication are used varies. Mediation and arbitration proceedings which make it possible to take the burden off the common courts are becoming a realistic alternative and in some selected areas they may represent the dominant dispute resolution mode in the future.
The Digital Agenda for Europe (DEA) is one of seven flagship initiatives of the European Commission initiated in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy. Its main goal is the development of a digital single market and investment projects for information society based on the mass use of modern information and communication technologies.
The individual actions specified in DEA include the creation of a digital single market with emphasis placed on the legality of Internet content, facilitating electronic payments and invoicing as well as building consumer trust in concluding online contracts of sale or service provision. In order to ensure the protection of consumer rights, the Agenda stresses that it is necessary to develop opportunities for alternative dispute resolution (Action 14: Explore the possibilities for Alternative Dispute Resolution), primarily as regards consumer disputes. Such recommendations reflect the growing volume of electronic transactions and legal disputes related to them. It is necessary to intensify efforts to implement alternative dispute resolution methods to take the load off common courts and initiate new mechanisms of handlings ensuing conflicts. Further, the fact of a dispute taking place in the realm of the Internet, characteristic of e-commerce, has necessitated the application of electronic communications also in out-of-court dispute resolution procedures (Online Dispute Resolution).
The growing number of examples of innovative Internet projects in the out-of-court area supporting the e-justice sector is a natural consequence of the ever more frequent conflicts stemming from contractual obligations, for instance in online business-to-consumer relations. This, in turn, makes it necessary to create systemic solutions like the European ODR platform.
Analysing the growing number of implemented electronic solutions, both in-court and out-of-court, one could imagine that future dispute resolutions will be increasingly often affected by new technologies which boost the efficiency of the communication processes or document exchange.
About the Author
dr Karolina Mania – PhD in law (Jagiellonian University); Lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Administration at Jagiellonian University; Assistant professor at The Institute of Political Science at the Pedagogical University of Cracow; Member of The Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution at Jagiellonian University and The Allerhand Institute; Fellow of The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF).
Currently my research focus on electronic forms of out-of-court dispute resolution (Online Dispute Resolution).