New article in India’s Economic Times on ODR. An excerpt:
‘ODR offers a more accessible, transparent and faster option, particularly for companies dealing with high volume and low value transactions done online. With more Indians transacting online — whether for e-commerce or banking — stakeholders say the timing is right for ODR to gain acceptance as an easy mechanism to resolve grievances. A year ago, a Nandan Nilekani -led panel on digital payments suggested that all payment system operators “must implement a fast and fair online dispute resolution system”.
Globally, ODR growth was fuelled by the e-commerce boom, with eBay and PayPal resolving millions of disputes online. “ODR can be used across sectors — from insurance to banking – and also for family disputes. It is about leveraging tech to prevent and resolve disputes,” says Chittu Nagarajan, a pioneer in ODR who headed Community Court initiatives at eBay and PayPal.
After the acquisition of her last ODR firm Modria by Tyler Technologies, Nagarajan in 2019 launched CREK ODR, an industry- and dispute-agnostic platform, which can be accessed by clients anywhere in the world. She underlines the need for a strong technology layer while implementing ODR. Her startup is an end-to-end SaaS platform with multiple features like virtual mediation rooms. “ODR is not just about applications. You need a fantastic tech platform. The design can’t be the same for platforms resolving family and e-commerce disputes.”
Players are aware of the challenges in the adoption of ODR in India — from the lack of enough arbitrators to building trust among consumers. “People need to accept that disputes can be resolved without the parties seeing each other,” says Jaswal. “The bigger test will be dealing with people who are not used to the digital ecosystem.”
Sama’s Sinha says capacity building is also a concern. “Lawyers can now explore providing online arbitration and mediation services as a viable career option too.”
Nevertheless, there is growing conviction that it is only a matter of time before ODR is adopted at scale in India. CODR’s Mahendra points to two recent judgements. In the first case, the Bombay High Court pulled up Tata Capital Financial Services when it was found to have used the same arbitrator for over 2,200 cases, paying him Rs 1,000 per case, which highlights the need for a large number of arbitrators at acceptable price points.’