Online Dispute Resolution

Technology is changing our lives in different ways. With the Internet we can reach out to anyone, anywhere with just a few keystrokes. We now carry devices around with us to enable us have access to virtually any available information and we can instantly communicate via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other means.

Before the 1990s there was no commercial activity on the internet and the small online community thus had very few ways to generate disputes. But all this changed when the online community became very large and the international markets became more accessible to the general public and it became possible not only to buy and sell online but also to engage in various other activities. With the online revolution it is inevitable that there will be changes in the way we disagree and the way we resolve the agreements. Companies such as eBay, Amazon and Taskrabbit now realise that a good dispute resolution system helps to build trust and retain users. These companies are handling many times the number of conflicts between buyers and sellers online than can be handled by courts.

What Is Online Dispute Resolution?

Online dispute resolution is the use of the Internet to resolve disputes. It is the application of information and communications technology to the practice of dispute resolution. Online dispute resolution has substantially changed our thinking about "location" and dispute resolution given the reality that the parties might be living in different jurisdictions and different time zones.

Online dispute resolution can involve parties in mediation and negotiation. The parties may use the Internet and web-based technology in a variety of ways. It can be done through email, Skype or video conferencing. Sometimes combinations of online and offline methods are used in online dispute resolution.

With eBay alone, about sixty million disputes are resolved this way every year. The resolution is carried out online and the parties are encouraged to resolve the dispute between them through online negotiation. But if they cannot resolve their dispute, a member of eBay resolves the dispute.

Online dispute resolution has various benefits. Some of them are:

It is often less expensive than the traditional method of resolution which is litigation. It is also a feasible option for people who cannot afford to travel long distance.

Parties may be able to save money when using online mediation where hiring an attorney is often not necessary.

The dispute can most times be resolved quickly.

Another benefit of resolving dispute online is that it avoids the issue of whether a particular court has jurisdiction or not over a dispute.

Online dispute resolution is also more flexible than the traditional legal process. And the parties involved have more control on the outcome of the dispute.

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