Goodbye to The Haggler

David Segal, aka The Haggler, is a New York Times reporter who for the last eight years has written a consumer help column. If his columns were compiled, they would provide an interesting overview, written in an entertaining style, of the plight of the modern consumer. Mr. Segal announced this week that he has been reassigned to the London bureau of the Times and will no longer be The Haggler. His farewell column is worth a read. Thanks for an informative and entertaining run.

Online court won’t repeat failure of Dutch model, MoR claims

 has a new piece on the Law Society Gazette website detailing a lecture delivered this month by Sir Terence Etherton about the new UK Online Court.  From the article:

“The failure of a pioneering online court in The Netherlands should not deter efforts to build more ambitious version in England and Wales, the Master of the Rolls has said. In a lecture this month, Sir Terence Etherton laid out for the first time the scale of the ambition behind the proposed ‘Online Solutions Court’, which will be designed to operate largely without lawyers and to dispense with ‘preventive justice’… the online court would ensure the core functions of the civil courts are ‘not simply maintained but augmented’. While the process will be designed so that individuals can access the system without the need for legal advice, he conceded that lawyers ‘will no doubt continue to play an important role in many cases’ especially those that proceed to disposal by a judge.”

Read more at https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/online-court-wont-repeat-failure-of-dutch-model-mor-claims/5061641.article

“Rechtwijzer: why online supported dispute resolution is hard to implement”

Great, frank assessment on the law-tech-a2j.org blog of the challenges behind the Rechtwijzer project, with some valuable takeaways and lessons learned:

“The main providers of justice – such as courts, legal aid boards, ministries and law firms – cannot implement online supported dispute resolution under the current regulatory regimes. Offering ODR to citizens as an independent service is an option, but it is uncertain whether it will succeed without some form of government support. Although many forms of alternative dispute resolution failed to make a breakthrough in the past, a smart ODR offering may yet be able to do this… The broader lesson is about innovation in legal dispute resolution systems. That is hard to achieve. ODR is no different from mediation, problem-solving courts, fast tracks, ombudsmen and countless other attempts to replace traditional court procedures by more innovative mechanisms. The demand for better procedures from citizens is huge. But the government institutions to which we entrust adjudication and legal aid do not have processes for implementing and scaling up innovation. Truly opening up to innovation. That should happen first.”

Read the full article here.

New Article on Judicial Online Dispute Resolution Systems

Ayelet Sela, a long time ODR pioneer (and now Professor at Bar Ilan University Faculty of Law) has published a great article entitled “Streamlining Justice: How Online Courts Can Resolve the Challenges of Pro Se Litigation” in the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2016.   This piece is an excellent distillation of the value ODR can bring to court and justice-sector resolution systems.  Check it out here.

Abstract:

“The tide of pro se litigation in the American justice system imposes significant constraints on self-represented litigants’ (SRLs) access to justice and courts’ ability to administer justice. Mitigating the challenges requires a systemic institutional and procedural reform. Advancing this approach, the Article proposes that online courts would alleviate many of the challenges associated with pro se litigation, and puts this proposition to an empirical test. To that end, the Article analyzes the challenges experienced by SRLs and courts and models the procedural and technological properties that would promote SRLs’ “day in court” as well as courts’ provision of fair and efficient access to justice. Based on the analysis and on a review of successful implementations of judicial online dispute resolution (JODR) systems, the Article proposes a detailed policy design framework for a JODR system for pro se litigation. Finally, the Article reports and discusses the results of an experiment evaluating the effect of the proposed framework on SRLs’ procedural justice experiences.”

 

ABA Journal: “Can justice be served online?”

Jayne Reardon in the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels blog:

“According to the book Digital Justice: Technology and the Internet of Disputes, disputes arise in 3 to 5 percent of online transactions, totaling over $700 million in e-commerce disputes in 2015 alone. Millions are overcharged, find credit report mistakes, are hacked, subjected to identity theft or are harassed while playing online games. ODR tools for resolving disputes include substituting software-based decision-making for the exchange of information that typically characterizes the mediation process. In 2012, eBay claimed it handled more than 60 million disputes between buyers and sellers by providing software that assisted the parties to negotiate a satisfactory outcome over 80 percent of the time. Alibaba, as of last year the world’s largest retailer, generating more revenue than Amazon.com and eBay combined, handles hundreds of millions of disputes per year.

So there are a lot of disputes, but the amounts at issue are generally small, and the buyer and seller are often in different countries, aided by distributors in yet a third or fourth location. This puts notions of subject matter jurisdiction and service of process a-spinning.

That’s where technology enters the picture as a way to efficiently and equitably resolve disputes. The premise of the Digital Justice authors is that access to justice can be enabled by software and mouse clicks just as in the old days, it was affected by the hours a court was open or how distant it was located from one’s home. Experimentation in small claims online courts is happening in the United Kingdom, British Columbia, the Netherlands and spottily in the United States.

Beyond resolution, the authors challenge us to think about how people could be better served by the law if we focus on preventing the relationship from erupting into a full-blown dispute in the first place…”

Read more

New book by Amy Schmitz and Colin Rule is a game changer!

The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection offers a groundbreaking innovative solution for addressing the challenges of cross border e-commerce ODR and is a must read for everyone who cares about access to justice, e-commerce, and ODR!  Authors Amy Schmitz and Colin Rule not only present a vision of an effective global ODR system but, importantly, illustrate its feasibility, providing a concrete set of criteria for systems design.  Fresh off the press, it is available from the American Bar Association.