Time for field-wide governance for ODR? It’s certainly time to talk about it

A new article entitled ‘No Sheriff in Town: Governance for the ODR Field’ has appeared in Negotiation Journal’s latest volume. In it, Noam Ebner and John Zeleznikow review current trends in the field of ODR, including its embrace by organizations in the ADR and legal world, and  the territory it is rapidly gaining with international institutions and systems around the world. Against this background, they survey the relatively low level of internal governance in ODR – organizations, standards of practice, ethical guidelines and accreditation programs are, at best, few and far between. The authors survey a variety of approach to organizing governance in professional fields, and suggest that the ODR field engage in conversation around considering a suitable governance map for itself. Without advocating for any particular model of governance, they raise a simple consideration in favor of urgency: If the ODR field does not set up its own model and structures of governance, external players and bodies will do so in its place.

One such conversation will take place during Cyberweek 2016. In the opening webinar, on Oct. 31st at 4pm Eastern US time, Noam Ebner and John Zeleznikow will review the already existing elements of governance in the ODR field, point out what is missing, and invite participants to raise their own ideas and suggestions for suitable approaches to governance and to discussing governance issues.

Join in!

ODR Forum 2016 Beijing: Consensus Reached on Value of ODR

ODR2016 was held in Beijing September 18-20 and the following document was adopted:

ODR 2016 Beijing

Beijing Consensus

The world faces a tremendous challenge with the exponential growth of cross-border transactions and disputes. The Internet has significantly lowered the barriers to cross-border transactions and communication, resulting in large numbers of disputes. Two recent projections underscore the urgent need for novel avenues for addressing cross-jurisdictional and other online disputes. For one, in the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, it was projected that cross-border e-commerce will involve 2 billion customers by the year 2020. In correlation with the growing number of cross-border commercial transactions, another recent projection is that the number of disputes will continue to rise sharply, reaching a pinnacle of one billion e-commerce disputes annually by 2017, and a million disputes a day by 2020. Addressing these disputes will be a major challenge to the construction of sustainable and healthy trade and social relations in an Internet society.

Against the challenges of the 21st century, ODR has much to offer as it has proven to be an invaluable channel, enhancing access to justice in a global digital world. ODR has been successfully used across the globe in the domain of e-commerce, social media, family disputes and a variety of other sectors. ODR nowadays has applications for both ADR and court processes and there are a growing number of ODR tools and systems some of which rely on human intervention, others employing a fully automated process, and those that are hybrid processes.

At this point we further believe that the time is ripe for the articulation of, and the commitment to, a set of ethical principles specifically designed for developing and conducting ODR. The adoption of principles would further increase trust in ODR and the e-commerce setting and ensure the delivery of high quality ODR processes. There are Ethical Principles for ODR developed collaboratively by the ODR community that can provide an anchor for such an endeavor (http://odr.info/ethics-and-odr/).

Hence, the 2016 ODR Beijing forum calls for further collaboration among states, enterprises, universities, institutes, researchers and practitioners engaged in relevant areas of research and practice to further advance these overarching ethical principles of ODR and work together to further the use and quality of ODR, a vital component of a digital age justice ecosystem.

Guided Resolution Platform Now Available for Educational Use

New Australian ODR provider Guided Resolution has now made their platform available for academics who would like to give their students an ODR platform to use for simulations and exercises.  They’re just put out a new brochure detailing the functionality of the system and how it can be used in education.  From the brochure:

  • Guided Resolution designs and custom builds web-based software applications that experientially educate tertiary students in Alternative Dispute
    Resolution (‘ADR’) practices.
  • The online process introduces an innovative platform to teaching win/win negotiation techniques; one that is principled, objective, and recordable.
  • Students require no pre-requisite knowledge or skills as the application (‘App’) provides a guided online preparation and interaction tool to augment their in-class sessions.
  • The system’s primary ADR reference model is interest based negotiation (‘IBN’), the same as what mediators use to establish a non-adversarial framework.
  • Students are prompted to think about and categorise essential information early and thoroughly in order to promote productive engagement in face-to-face (‘FTF’) role-play exercises.

To learn more, view the brochure here, or contact Guided Resolution’s CEO, Ross Paull, at  rp@guidedresolution.com.au.

Final Justice Briggs Report Released: Calls for Creation of an Online Court

Today the final report on the modernization of the UK courts was released, and essentially all the ODR recommendations of the Susskind commission were accepted by the author, Lord Justice Briggs.  The portion relevant to the Online Court starts on page 36.
This is the biggest step forward yet in the mainstreaming of ODR within the courts.  Consequently, the announcement is getting a lot of attention — this tweet is from one of the the founders of Legalzoom:
Inline image 1
From the formal announcement:

“Lord Justice Briggs has today published his final report into the structure of the civil courts: The Civil Courts Structure Review (CCSR)

The final report follows an extensive series of meetings with judges, practitioners, stakeholders and users of the civil courts, and a series of detailed written and oral submissions following the publication of the review’s interim report in January 2016.

The review makes a series of recommendations intended to inform the current programme of wider court modernisation being undertaken by HM Courts and Tribunals Service… These are summarised below:

  • The Online Court – a new court, designed to be used by people with minimum assistance from lawyers, with its own set of user-friendly rules. It is anticipated that it will eventually become the compulsory forum for resolving cases within its jurisdiction, and on inception should be dealing with straightforward money claims valued at up to £25,000. Recommendations are made on helping people who need assistance with online systems. Complex and important cases to be transferred upwards to higher courts. Open justice and transparency issues to be addressed.”

Read the full report here.

New Access to Justice Blog from Roger Smith

Roger Smith, the legendary writer and thinker on legal services, has a new blog chronicling the advances in technology and access to justice.

The blog has some excellent advice about the current state of ODR, particularly from the Ministry/Court perspective.  From his latest post:

“My own advice (would that anyone would listen) to any Ministry or Court wishing to dip its toe into the waters of ODR is: wait; see what works and what does not. The chances are HiiL and Modria will come through well but some systems – probably those built in house – will fail. Watch; wait; prepare; move decisively into the market in 2018. But, who in these days of instant movement and rapid technological change wants to hear boringly sensible advice like that?”

Definitely worth the browsing time.  Read more at http://law-tech-a2j.org/

HiiL Releases “ODR and the Courts: The Promise of 100% Access to Justice?”

The Hague Institute for Innovations in Law (HiiL) has just released their latest Trend report titled “ODR and the Courts; The promise of 100% access to justice?”  This report will be distributed to the world’s judiciary, executive, legal professionals, innovators and wider ODR community.  It comes directly out of the conversations at ODR2016.org, which was hosted by HiiL and held in The Hague a few weeks ago.  This report is the product of a huge pooling of collective experience across many sectors, and it will likely make a big splash within legal and judicial communities around the world.

From the Executive Summary:

“The report, bringing together best practices from various legal systems, illustrates how citizens, courts, ministries of justice and the legal profession can all gain from broad implementation of ODR and related procedural innovation. Courts can improve the services to citizens, regain their market share and avoid being overburdened. Government budgets for courts and legal aid can be brought under control by a smart system of user fees for better services to citizens. The law firms working for individuals, now often struggling as a business, can add more value to more people’s lives and serve more people more effectively and efficiently. What is needed is a coordinated effort to open up the legal framework so that new roles and procedural models can freely emerge and be continuously improved.”

You can find an online read-friendly version here, or download the PDF.  Please share widely with your network.

ODR2016 in Beijing

The first ODR2016 International Forum at the Hague in May was a great success. There will be a second ODR2016 International Forum this year. It will be held in Beijing September 19-20 (with optional tours on September 18 and 21). Information about the Beijing Forum is at http://uibesz.org/xygg/shownews.php?lang=cn&id=230 If you have any questions about attending, would like to make a presentation or would like an invitation (which you will need to obtain a visa), please email our host, Andy Lee of the The Unversity of International Business and Economics at anyu.lee@gmail-in-China or his associate Angela Zhu at odr2016@163.com or angelazjx@126.com. I hope that we will see you there.

Ethan Katsh
Director, National Center for Technology
and Dispute Resolution