OTTER: Online Dispute Resolution for Kids – Now on KICKSTARTER

From the Kickstarter website:

“Otter is an award-winning online dispute resolution (ODR) solution that includes an “automated mediator” and other dispute resolution tools to help kids resolve conflicts.

Conflicts are a huge problem for everyone, but kids are especially susceptible to unresolved conflicts because they usually don’t have the skills, time, or means to resolve their conflicts.

Conflicts can start out as something as simple as not saying “sorry” for accidentally bumping into someone, but even a small conflict, if ignored, can turn into a big problem like fighting or bullying.

Otter gives kids dispute resolution training and then gives them the means to resolve their conflicts.  It also uses technology to make conflict resolution efficient, so that it doesn’t waste time that should be spent on academic work.

While Otter was initially developed for elementary schools, we discovered that it can be used by any age group, even adults!

Otter is great for:

  • District and individual schools looking for a positive way for students to handle conflicts
  • Districts and individual schools looking for a uniform way to teach about bullying and offer training around dealing with problems in an appropriate way
  • Families (especially families with children) looking for a way to ensure that each member of the family feels heard
  • Families looking for a way to make sure that they are dealing with conflict instead of having the same arguments over and over
  • Families looking for a way to teach their children appropriate conflict resolution skills

Benefits  

Numerous studies have shown the emotional and financial benefits of resolving conflicts. Here are a few ways Otter can help:

  • Increase attendance- When students don’t feel happy at school, they are less likely to attend. Public schools depend on attendance for funding, and teachers need kids to be in class to learn.
  • Improve school culture- When conflicts are resolved, kids are happier. And when students know there is an efficient conflict resolution system in place, they feel supported and safe.
  • Save time- When teachers need to deal with small conflicts, they have less time to teach. By empowering students to resolve many of their smaller conflicts, teachers can spend time the way they planned.

Eventually, Otter will be able to be customized to be used as an ODR solution for conflicts at every level of education and in the work place.”

This project won the first Tech for Justice Hackathon held as part of odr2014.org.  This is amazingly cool — let’s work together to get it funded!

Learn more:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/686070617/otter-online-dispute-resolution-for-kids

ODR Advisory Group in the UK Recommends Online Court

Via Graham Ross: A ground breaking Report has just been released by the ODR Advisory Group to the Civil Justice Council for an Internet based court service, provisionally called Her Majesty’s Online Court (HMOC), with judges hearing cases online and with much more effort in helping people resolve disputes without requiring  a judge.

The Advisory Group has set up a website that will grow over time. It contains the full Report as well as additional material and interviews with experts including Modria co-founder, Colin Rule and Professor  Ethan Katsh.  The Report itself can be downloaded from here.

The report suggests a 3 tier system that moves from diagnosis to facilitation to dispute resolution  Even for cases requiring a judge this system will offer services at lower cost bot to the parties (reduced fees) and to the court service.

There has been considerable publicity to these proposals in all the national UK press and media. A spokesperson for HMCTS (Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service) has publicly responded to say: ‘We welcome the publication of this important and thought-provoking report. We agree that On-line Dispute Resolution is an important area and one that we are actively exploring in more detail in the context of the reform of court and tribunal services.

We are keen to continue to engage with the ODR Advisory Group on their report and any future work that the Civil Justice Council may commission them to do.’ 

Read more here.

ICT in the United Nations: Report of the Secretary-General

The United Nations Secretary-General recently issued a report recognizing “the enormous potential of information and communications technology to strengthen the decision-making and delivery capacity…in the areas of peace and security, development, human rights and international law….”  And stating that “in the past, technology has been regarded as a utility which is separate from substantive business. However, technology and business are not mutually exclusive, they are inextricably linked. The proposed strategy, as requested by the General Assembly, is set out in the present report and is a statement of how technology can be used to best effect in order to support the work of the Organization.”

Calls for government to invest in online dispute resolution

A new article in Legal Futures suggests that momentum is building behind calls for government to invest more heavily in ODR.  An excerpt of the article:

“…Professor Richard Susskind, who is heading a committee investigating ODR, has called for ODR to be explored in “greater depth and urgently”.

The report on the digital delivery of legal services to people on low incomeswas written by Professor Roger Smith, solicitor and former director of JUSTICE, and backed by the Legal Education Foundation (LEF).

He said the Dutch were leading the way with user-orientated legal advice websites, while British Columbia looked likely to be the first to deliver “online dispute determination” next year.

“If it was my money, I would want to see what was happening in Vancouver first,” Professor Smith told Legal Futures. “We can watch what happens and learn a lot”.

The professor said version two of the Dutch Rechtwijzer programme was due to go live in March 2015, which would take users to the point where Dutch law requires lawyers to review documentation before it is seen by judges.

Meanwhile in Canada, a Civil Resolution Tribunal would be set up in British Columbia next year, providing an alternative to the traditional small claims court.

Professor Smith said too many legal advice websites were based on print, with many still using the expression “fact sheet”. He went on: “The best sites, like the Dutch one, are turning themselves around so they ask questions of the user and identify exactly what the user wants. Airline websites don’t give you a suite of timetables – they ask you where you want to go.”

Professor Smith said Holland had led the way with user-orientated legal advice websites, funded by the Dutch legal aid board.

The LEF report recommended that the Ministry of Justice and Courts Service should commit to a “pilot small claims online dispute resolution programme”, from 2016 onwards.

In April, the Civil Justice Council (CJC) set up an advisory group, chaired by Professor Richard Susskind, to explore the role that online dispute resolution (ODR) can play in resolving civil disputes.

Professor Susskind spoke last month at a CJC event on litigants in person, and a newly published summary of the event reported him saying that there was no doubting the huge potential ODR offered in terms of resolving disputes quickly and cheaply.

ODR tended to take one of three forms – either a form of e-adjudication, a type of online ADR negotiation via IT or a tool for diagnosing problems.

The summary continued: “Good ODR systems were already available, and the question now was to what extent the state would take ownership of an ODR structure. In other jurisdictions, e.g. Holland and British Columbia, state-run services were in operation, and parking adjudications offered a UK model.

“There was no doubt ODR would appeal to the under 30s. It would not solve all disputes, but it was a topic that needed to be explored in greater depth and urgently.”’

Read the full article here:

http://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/calls-for-government-invest-online-dispute-resolution-part-digital-legal-services-push

UK Legal Ombudsman Releases Report on ODR

Today the UK Legal Ombudsman published a research report produced by Queen Margaret University looking at Models of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The aim of this research was to investigate what the Legal Ombudsman can learn from other ADR providers. The research was to help the Legal Ombudsman review and develop its dispute resolution model and ensure it remains fit-for-purpose.

ODR features prominently in the report, and is one of the four main areas of focus.  The eBay/PayPal experience is covered in some depth.  The ODR section is summarized thusly:

“Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is the use of information and communications technology to help disputants find resolutions to their disputes and is emerging as an increasingly important approach for resolving consumer complaints. Initially designed to resolve high volume and low cost consumer e-commerce disputes, ODR has developed to enable its use for complaints about financial services, property tax and complaints to Ombudsman organisations, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). According to Fowlie (2011), the inaugural ICANN Ombudsman, ODR is a process that can be used to improve or supplement most ADR techniques. It applies both to online disputes and to real world complaints and can be technology-based or technology-assisted. In technology-based ODR, parties are helped through, for example, blind-bidding systems to arrive at an optimal outcome. Technology-assisted ODR uses tools to increase the efficiency of human-based approaches such as investigation, questioning, presenting options and communicating findings and may be particularly attractive to ombudsman and ADR organisations. This section gives an analysis of the key issues associated with ODR and assesses its potential, drawing from a case study looking at eBay’s system of dispute resolution.”

To read the full report, access the PDF here:

http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/downloads/documents/research/Models-Alternative-Dispute-Resolution-Report-141031.pdf