The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has released two new reports on court connected ODR:
- JTC Resource Bulletin: Case Studies in ODR for Courts: A view from the front lines
- 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.”