UK Legal Ombudsman Releases Report on ODR

Today the UK Legal Ombudsman published a research report produced by Queen Margaret University looking at Models of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The aim of this research was to investigate what the Legal Ombudsman can learn from other ADR providers. The research was to help the Legal Ombudsman review and develop its dispute resolution model and ensure it remains fit-for-purpose.

ODR features prominently in the report, and is one of the four main areas of focus.  The eBay/PayPal experience is covered in some depth.  The ODR section is summarized thusly:

“Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is the use of information and communications technology to help disputants find resolutions to their disputes and is emerging as an increasingly important approach for resolving consumer complaints. Initially designed to resolve high volume and low cost consumer e-commerce disputes, ODR has developed to enable its use for complaints about financial services, property tax and complaints to Ombudsman organisations, such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). According to Fowlie (2011), the inaugural ICANN Ombudsman, ODR is a process that can be used to improve or supplement most ADR techniques. It applies both to online disputes and to real world complaints and can be technology-based or technology-assisted. In technology-based ODR, parties are helped through, for example, blind-bidding systems to arrive at an optimal outcome. Technology-assisted ODR uses tools to increase the efficiency of human-based approaches such as investigation, questioning, presenting options and communicating findings and may be particularly attractive to ombudsman and ADR organisations. This section gives an analysis of the key issues associated with ODR and assesses its potential, drawing from a case study looking at eBay’s system of dispute resolution.”

To read the full report, access the PDF here: