Council of Europe Committee Urges Wider Use of ODR

 

Thanks to Graham for the heads up on this: Last week a Report to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
 of the Council of Europe focused on the challenges of rolling out ODR to expand access to justice across Europe.  It reads in part:

“both ODR and ICT, though not by any means panaceas, can help provide greater access to the judicial system by offering solutions to the problems of judicial inefficiency, the high cost of litigation, and geographical barriers. ODR and ICT nevertheless have some drawbacks, and member States should continue to invest in the development of safer, more effective, and more accessible ODR and ICT.”

The Report argues that ODR processes can

“…go beyond an individualistic resolution of isolated disputes. As mentioned above, ODR providers use their experience from earlier settlement agreements in similar cases to give recommendations on possible remedies, by using technology to identify recurring patterns of disputes and categorising complaints [...] Seen from this angle, ODR may not only be a means for resolving disputes, but possibly also an opportunity for preventing them, including by way of changing the behaviour of traders.”

The Report recommends a draft Resolution to be adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly recommending that:

  • the 47 member States be encouraged to promote  awareness of ,and further develop, mechanisms for ODR;
  • the extrajudicial enforcement of ODR decisions be promoted;
  • there be recognition of various challenges including inequalities in access to online resources, privacy and enforcement;
  • ODR procedures should contain safeguards compliant with Articles 6 and 13 (right to an effective remedy, particularly against authority) of the ECHR;
  • parties engaging in ODR procedures should, afterwards, retain the right to access a judicial appeals procedure satisfying the requirements of a fair trial pursuant to Article 6 of the Convention;
  • standards be developed for ODR , including ensuring that the process does not unfairly favour repeat players over one-time users, and establish a system of accreditation for ODR providers. (Some potential for duplication here with the system of accreditation already now in place under the EU Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Consumer Disputes 2013/11/EU)
  • that technological developments be monitored in order to promote the use of ICT within courts.

This is a very helpful report, and it continues the momentum building behind ODR in Europe.  To learn more, read Graham’s blog post and the full text of the report itself.

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