The most anticipated meeting in the world of Online Dispute Resolution

Visit us at:​
5 days that will completely change the way you think about Online Dispute Resolution.

Featured speakers from 5 continents, inspiring talks in 3 languages, simultaneous translation into Portuguese, English and Spanish. 20 interactive workshops, 15 demonstrations of cutting-edge technology, a networking space (yes, live networking!), with 24-hour online community meetings and much more. A disruptive and revolutionary event like none other you have experienced​

Indian ODR Week

If you’re not aware, there’s a big event happening in ODR in India this week!

All the details are here. From the website:

“Spurred for the most part by the COVID pandemic, ODR became a national priority in 2020. The year began with ODR Week 2020 – the first week-long open discussions on ODR in India. NITI Aayog, in association with Agami and Omidyar Network India, brought together key stakeholders from the Judiciary, Government and Business, to recognize the need for ODR and advance its mainstreaming.

The Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy published a report ODR: The Future of Dispute Resolution in India. NITI Aayog published a discussion paper titled Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India and requested inputs from the ODR community in India.

2020 truly allowed ODR to tip into the national consciousness and systems.  This leaves the question – what next? What will it take to make ODR accessible and familiar to all of India? How do we get businesses to onboard more disputes to ODR? How do we build capacity for this and who are the actors that can play a role in it? ODR Week 2021 seeks to explore this – the possibilities and opportunities for the ODR ecosystem in India. While reflecting on the successes and learnings of 2020, we will also discuss the potential pathways that can scale the ODR ecosystem in India.”

Check out the launch video:

The video of the first session is also available:

Hope to see you there!

Rethinking: The Justice Algorithm

The access to justice (A2J) community currently sees technology as a vital component of any effort to reduce the “justice gap.” Technology is a hopeful solution because it has the ability to amplify and accelerate legal tasks currently performed only by a limited pool of human experts – with many anticipating solutions that reduce the need for human expertise in many situations.

No matter the definition, the justice gap is wide. When looking at civil issues, Legal Services Corporation defines the justice gap as the “difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs” (LSC, The Justice Gap Report, 2017). For the year 2017, LSC concluded that “86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help.”

When looking at the expanded definition put forward by the World Justice Project (WJP) as occurring when people “cannot obtain justice for everyday civil, administrative or criminal problems… are excluded from the opportunities the law provides… [or] live in extreme conditions of injustice” (World Justice Project, Measuring the Justice Gap, 2019), the justice gap in 2019 was estimated to affect 5.1 Billion people, or 2 out of every 3 individuals on the planet. In theory, the justice gap exists because too many have too little ability to access the legal procedures needed to seek justice. If the efforts of the few currently working to close this gap can be amplified through the use of technology, many argue that this increased access to legal procedures enabled by technology will lead to justice.

Much of the discussion around A2J revolves around the technological limits of access to legal procedures. Does someone have broadband? Does someone have technological comfort? Does someone need communication support? Yet effectively defining access begs an important question: access to what?

Operation versus Optimization
Even with truly equitable access to legal procedure, it is not clear that procedural efficiency will lead to justice. In many communities, injustice is baked into the culture such that legal processes reinforce an intentionally designed injustice. Like a dying star, the time it takes to update legal procedures in a rapidly changing society means the justice delivered will be radiating from a reality that no longer exists. Outcomes that were once not opposed by a community may become unacceptable once the community makeup or power dynamics shift.

In these communities, since access to justice technologies are currently little more than process accelerants, accelerating what were or have become unjust processes leads to a more rapid delivery of injustice. Technology cannot be effectively deployed without clearly designing the process leading towards the intended outcome. So what should be technology’s intended outcome if it is seeking to enable justice?

The A2J community’s traditional focus on procedural justice has led most dispute resolution technology (DRTech) efforts to digitize legal operations. By focusing on the operation, the limited view of the unaided human mind can quickly identify operational injustice. Bias can be seen when the same variables produce different outcomes. Yet justice is not an operation, nor is it the same for everyone. Justice is a state of balance. The true value of DRTech is in its ability to simultaneously manage the breadth of variables that an unaided human mind cannot process, and optimize those variables for the conditions that lead to balance. Technology cannot find justice through mimicking human operation. Technology is uniquely capable of discovering an unlimited number of unique states of justice through optimization.

The Target
Every optimization routine must be given a target that it will work towards. Many of the greatest failings in DRTech come from inappropriate targets. For example, facial recognition has routinely failed the African American community when it is optimizing based on datasets of white faces. Predictive policing has routinely failed when it is optimizing based on datasets of inequitable decisions. Online arbitration has routinely failed when it is optimizing based on past decisions. So what would happen if we defined the “justice algorithm” as one seeking the following target:

Optimize the deployment of resources in a manner that minimizes the reduction of equitable access to future opportunities.

Potential Application
The potential elegance of such an optimization approach is its reflection of our knowledge that “just outcomes” are never static. This optimization approach accepts the fluidity of justice and leverages technology to help us refine what the unaided mind is unable to see. For those in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) space, the greatest feature of ADR is its ability to discover acceptable outcomes which cannot be arrived at through procedural justice. As the number of participants and issues expand in any ADR process, we are challenged to balance all of them. Arriving at a “just” divorce settlement is challenging enough when balancing financial, social and emotional, and the operational issues around breaking a “micro-community” into equitable parts. Expanding what works in a divorce settlement to define optimized justice in our communities more broadly requires accounting for an immense number of variables.

Implementing such a definition of justice without the aid of online dispute resolution (ODR) technologies is likely impossible. Yet the processing power of technology could allow for more variables to be considered and balanced at once. It could allow us to test which variables are more impactful than others. Technology could offer us the vision we need to see extremely complex systems clearly enough to determine what we, as a society, believe are appropriate and just outcomes. Employing technology in this way where it is most useful, by allowing it to accelerate and amplify our vision, will allow us to see the outsized impact that many of our more subtle resource allocation decisions have on our ability to access those just outcomes.

For example, consider the scenario where a man breaks into a house, steals personal possessions while the family is home, and is caught, convicted, and incarcerated. This model would assume justice will have been done if we optimize for no less than the following variables:
– The cost of retrieving the personal items that were stolen,
– The time and cost of mental health services needed for the affected family to feel safe in their own home again,
– The reduced earning potential of those affected by the home invasion,
– The cost of incarceration,
– The cost of the rehabilitation programs available to the incarcerated individual,
– The economic impact borne by the incarcerated individual’s family during incarceration, and
– The reduced earning potential of the incarcerated individual post release.

Each variable is a vital element within a complex balance. The punishment inflicted upon the perpetrator must be balanced by the cost of the victim becoming whole. The cost of rehabilitation must account for all those impacted by the punishment. The view must be towards what will come next, towards how the path forward is proportionate and equitable. We know the victims will carry this event with them in some manner for the rest of their lives, as will the perpetrator. Technology now allows us to evaluate with remarkable precision the inputs and their impact on the opportunities that will remain for all parties impacted by such an event.

We must embrace the idea that technology can help us see better than it can help us decide.

Justice, as proposed here, is ensuring that the resolving and preventing of our disputes does not take away or cause anyone to lose access to opportunities inequitably. It is a solution so large that even conceptualizing it can be a challenge, especially since the outcomes at any point cannot be known in advance. Yet it is a uniquely positioned solution that turns technology away from accelerating and amplifying known failings, and towards exploring what we have previously been unable to effectively define.

Chris Draper is an NCTDR Fellow, Managing Director of Trokt, Co-Chair of the ABA Dispute Resolution Technology Committee, and Visiting Scholar at the Indiana University Ostrom Workshop. He is accessible on Twitter as @theotherdraper

2021 Virtual ODR Forum – Thank You!

Thanks to all our presenters and participants for a wonderful 2021 Virtual ODR Forum. While we missed getting together in person, the quality of the presentations and engagement was just as excellent and inspirational as it has been at previous in-person Forums.

If you missed any of the sessions, recordings of most of the sessions are now available to watch on Youtube:

The forum agenda will remain available here.

Also, make sure to watch the excellent streaming sessions (see below).

Hopefully, if the vaccination efforts proceed, we will all be able to see each other in person again in Dublin in December. Until then, take care, be well, and keep up the good work.

The Presence of Artificial Intelligence Applied to ODR in Latin America, María Victoria Marun, Director, Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Bar & Solicitors 3rd Legal Circumscription Mendoza, Argentina [click to view]

Online Sport Dispute Resolution, Dr. Frank Fowlie, Commissioner, Athletics Canada [click to view]

Trust, Empathy and Social Intuition in Online Dispute Resolution, Noam Ebner, Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NCR) Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Creighton University [click to view]

Systems Design and its application in Latin America in the field of ODR, Alberto Elisavetsky, Systems Designer of ODR Applications in Latin America [click to view]

New ODR Needs New Technology,  Zbynek Loebl, Open ODR and PRK Partners [click to view]

ODR for E-Commerce: International Legal Standards and Developments, Esther Vilalta, PhD, Chair in Civil Law, Law and Political Science Dept., Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) [click to view]

The EU ODR Platform – 5 Years On, Pablo Cortés, Professor of Civil Justice, University of Leicester, UK [click to view]

Lessons Learned from the Unfortunately Asymmetrical Evolution of ODR in Canada, Karim Benyekhlef, Professor and Director of the Cyberjustice Lab, University of Montreal [click to view]

ODR System Design Reimagined for High Stakes Legal Disputes, Michael Wolf, Director, Collaboration and ADR Office, Federal Labor Relations Authority [click to view]

Join us for ODR Virtual Forum 2021 – March 1-2

NCTDR is hosting a two day online conference in part to celebrate the new edition of the seminal volume of ODR scholarship ODR Theory and Practice. The agenda will feature many of the authors of chapters in the new book, as well as a deep dive on AI and Dispute Systems Design. We plan to have three hours of sessions in the morning and three hours in the afternoon (US East coast time) on both March 1 and 2 to get better coverage and accessibility for all our friends around the world.

To attend the Forum, the link is listed at the top of the agenda (see below). To register for the conference (it’s free) and add your name to the mailing list, please fill out this form:

Check out the agenda and access information for the forum here.

Some highlights include:

  • A Keynote on Artificial Intelligence (AI), bias, and ODR
  • The first readout from a Pew-funded academic ODR research project (the University of Arizona’s Innovation for Justice program)
  • A talk from the CEO of Niti Aayog, the policy think tank of the Government of India, who are leading the charge on India’s massive ODR project

Alongside many other presentations and presentations, both live and recorded, from the global leaders in ODR. We hope to see you there!

New Kenyan ODR Provider: Utatuzi Center

From the Utatuzi Center website:

“Utatuzi Center (UC) is a highly innovative web-based platform created on the acknowledgment that disputes are inherent and inevitable to human beings. They will arise in our lives and our workplaces at any time.

Accordingly, our goal as Utatuzi Center (UC) is to provide a digital platform that links companies, small and medium-sized firms, and clients from different fields with eminently qualified and highly experienced alternative dispute resolution professionals-Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators- who have been selected for their proven track record of resolving commercial disputes.

We aim at preemptively, proactively, and expeditiously resolving disputes with minimal or zero litigation. Our platform is API-enabled, meaning that the platform will be integrated into our clients’ compatible backend to allow automatic notifications, response, and tracking of disputes at the comfort of their desktops.

We acknowledge the fact that litigation through the court system in Kenya for businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises often takes long, it is expensive, quite cumbersome and procedural. It will most likely destroy any business relationship between the conflicting parties.

Our web-based platform offers well thought Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) strategies such as Arbitration, Mediation, and Conciliation through which businesses, firms, and different clients can resolve their commercial, human resource, and other issues and retain a cordial working relationship. Our services will ensure that your disputes are resolved professionally, expeditiously, and confidentially. Therefore, saving you time and resources and allowing you to maximize your business’ goals and profits.

Further, our platform has a modern state of art video conferencing platform which allows for virtual sessions and Online Disputes Resolution ( ODR) for e-commerce transactions and other disputes arising from the internet, thus giving transacting parties a viable recourse. Consequently, negating the need for physical meetings.”

Here’s their overview video from the HiiL Innovating Justice conference:

Learn more at