NCSC/Pew Charitable Trusts ODR Project Announcement


The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is engaging with Pew Charitable Trusts to explore and examine various Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) implementations with the end goal of making ODR, a digital space where parties can convene to work out a resolution to their dispute or case, useful and successful.

To that end, NCSC is interested in knowing whether your state/jurisdiction has started an ODR effort. If so, what case type(s) does your effort focus on and where are you in the implementation lifecycle (e.g., forming an exploratory group, looking at commercial solutions, building your own, implementing a vendor solution, or already using an ODR solution and for how long)? Are you interested and willing to have NCSC and Pew engaged in helping your ODR effort at no cost to you?

NCSC can offer technical assistance, as well as process mapping help and evaluation for a handful of efforts. Even if you have already implemented an ODR solution, we are keen to know what went well and how you are using ODR. Responses should be directed to Shelley Spacek Miller, or 757-259-1538, and include follow-up contact information.”

Noam Ebner wins award

From the blog –

A simulation co-authored by Noam Ebner (Creighton) has been named a first-prize co-winner of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs annual E-PARCC teaching case and simulation competition. Congratulations, Noam!

The simulation places participants in the role of EU leaders tasked with forming EU policy in face of the waves of migration entering the EU. Noam and his co-authors actually wrote three Model EU simulations Noam co-authored as part of a project for the EU Delegation to the US. The award-winning simulation (as well as two others on different topics) can be downloaded for use here.

In celebration of the anniversary of last year’s conference on “Equal Access to Information & Justice – Online Dispute Resolution – ODR 2017” held in Paris, a special webpage in the ICC Dispute Resolution Library has been created and is publicly available:

The page provides access to video-recordings of all panels, the powerpoints, the bios and the programme distributed in the delegate bags.

Thanks to the ICC and Mirèze Philippe for making this valuable resource available to everyone free of charge.

Read more here.

New White Paper on Technology and Tribunals in the UK

Thanks to Mike Lind for sharing a link the new white paper “The Digitalisation of Tribunals: What we know and what we need to know.”

The report is co-authored by Professor Robert Thomas (Professor of Public Law, University of Manchester) and Dr Joe  Tomlinson (Lecturer in Public Law, University of Sheffield, and Research Director, Public Law Project).

From the Introduction:

“There is a global movement toward digital justice. In the UK, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) are implementing a wide-ranging court reform and digitalisation programme across the justice system. The digitalisation of administrative tribunals is a key part of that agenda. In global terms, the reforms being carried out by HMCTS are pioneering and are on an unprecedented scale. While there is clear ambition on display, much of the detail of how the new system will work are still being worked out.

This report covers four distinct questions:

  • what is the context for the introduction of online tribunals?
  • what do we know about what online tribunal procedures will look like?
  • what are the key issues going forward?
  • how do developments in the UK fit within wider international developments?

The digitalisation of tribunals can be understood as occurring within four related though discrete

  • reforms to administrative justice and changes to tribunals;
  • advances in e-government;
  • developments in online dispute resolution (ODR); and
  • the development of the Transforming Our Justice System proposals.”

Click here for the full report.


British Columbia ODR system handles 14,000 cases in first 7 months

A new article on the ABA website shares performance details from the British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal shared at the 2018 mid-year meeting in Vancouver.  From the article:

“The early results are encouraging, according to the developers and operators, who spoke at a panel discussion Saturday at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver. So far, the system has handled nearly 14,000 small-claims cases. Roughly 85 percent of the 700 cases resolved to date were settled. Only 12 went to decision at the tribunal.

More important, the online tribunal has made it much simpler for ordinary citizens to access the justice system with small disputes. Lawyers are generally prohibited from participating. Users fill out simple, easy-to-follow, step-by-step questionnaires online…”

The article shares quotes from Shannon Salter and Darin Thompson from the CRT and the BC Ministry of Justice.

Read more here.

New Online Divorce Website: “It’s Over Easy” Featured in NYT

From “Angelina Jolie’s Lawyer Now Offers Quickie Divorces Online,” by Amy Sohn in The New York Times, Feb. 3 2018:

‘Since couples now meet online, plan weddings online, cheat online and find couples therapists online, it is only logical that they should be able to divorce online.

It’s Over Easy is a new website that takes couples through divorce for a starting fee of $750. It is either liberating in its convenience (remember in the Rosalind Russell film “The Women” when the disgruntled wives had to fly to a dude ranch in Reno, Nev.?) or another sign of pending apocalypse.

More curiously, it was founded not by some fly-by-night 1-800-SPLIT-NOW type but by Laura Wasser, the affluent Beverly Hills-adjacent lawyer who has represented Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Jennifer Garner and Christina Aguilera, among other famous clients.

Ms. Wasser introduced the site privately to about a dozen of her friends and acquaintances in Los Angeles in the summer. Since late January, it has been available to the public in California and in New York, with plans to expand to Nevada, Oregon, Florida and Texas this year.

To promote these developments Ms. Wasser recently appeared on “Good Morning America” and spoke at the SoHo branch of the women’s club the Wing in New York, telling a lovelorn separated woman during a Q. and A. that in trying to punish her husband by dragging her feet on divorce, she was actually punishing herself. This week, an ad for It’s Over Easy appeared on the Nasdaq building, featuring an enormous head-to-toe image of the glamorous, honey-haired Ms. Wasser, with the headline “ONLINE DIVORCE AVAILABLE NOW.”’

Read more here

New reports on ODR from the National Center for State Courts

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has released two new reports on court connected ODR:

  1. JTC Resource Bulletin: Case Studies in ODR for Courts: A view from the front lines
  2. JTC Resource Bulletin: ODR for Courts

For those outside the US, the NCSC is the organization courts turn to for authoritative knowledge and information, because it collaborates closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, and other associations of judicial leaders.  NCSC’s leadership in promoting ODR in the courts is hugely legitimizing, and is likely to spark enormous interest on the part of Court Administrative Officers and Chief Justices in the US over 2018.

From the report:

“For more than 20 years, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has been used effectively to resolve individual-to-individual e-commerce disputes. Increasingly, it is being used in innovative applications unique to the judiciary. While ODR is a new concept for courts, it is not a theory or a “bleeding-edge” technology. It is a proven tool with a documentable record of success over a sustained period of time: billions of disputes have been resolved outside of court using ODR. Significant opportunities exist for courts to leverage ODR to expand services while simultaneously reducing costs and improving the public’s experience and therefore, satisfaction. For those reasons, it is becoming central to the discussion of the future of courts.

In its 2016 recommendations entitled Call to Action: Achieving Civil Justice for All, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) observes that navigating civil courts can be daunting and “those who enter the system confront a maze-like process that costs too much and takes too long.” The report notes that services should improve in step with changing needs and the development of new technologies, but goes on to lament that “courts lack any of the user-friendly support we rely on in other sectors.” Recommendation 13 of the CCJ report implores courts to “take all necessary steps to increase convenience to litigants by simplifying the court-litigant interface and creating on-demand court assistance services.” As such, “on-demand court assistance” must go beyond basic informational webpages or online payment portals.

A more public-facing use of technology, ODR takes the benefits of technology much further. While courts are using technology effectively to improve case management and administrative processes and to address federal disposition reporting requirements, ODR has the potential to dramatically expand the public’s access to justice and improve their experience with justice processes.”

Read more…