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A Simple Guide to Online Dispute Resolution

The Online Dispute Resolution System includes Arbitration, Mediation and Conciliation. The Parties need to incorporate ODR clause in the contract to avail the benefit. It is legally recognised Dispute Resolution Mechanisms. Awards and settlements arising out of ODR are enforceable through Courts. Cost of travelling is saved by attending online hearings. Arbitrator's fee is also lesser for ODR arbitrations.

Though The Supreme Court has allowed the online filing and hearing of cases. The fact that the judiciary is already heavily clogged and overburdened with tons of cases further necessitates deploying the rapidly growing technological avenues in alternate dispute resolution methodologies as well. Adopting alternative forms of dispute resolutions online via emails, video conferencing, calls, etc. can prove to be highly beneficial particularly to advocates and law firms dealing with a very high volume of cases both at low and high values.

More efficient results can be expected via ODR's as it is a consensual approach rather than being adversarial that could be mostly tailored as per the involved parties' needs compared to litigation and traditional alternative dispute resolution methods. It is a willful modus operandi. ODR also comes appropriate in cases that require high confidentiality.

One famous example from the EU ODR is the concept of 'blind bidding' which involves each party making a settlement bid unknown to the other party. asynchronous forms of online dispute resolution like emails provides an opportunity for more innovative, sure and thoughtful case presentations overcoming issues arising out of spontaneity opening doors for the remote resolutions that are possible. Disputes involving sensitivities between parties such as serious matrimonial disputes can also be attended to smoothly by way of ODR.

It eases out complex jurisdictional constraints in turn saving the advocates travel time and provides for greater exposure to work with prominent international or distant clients and corporations. Also due to functions like translation, etc language and more issues arising out of the fact that India is a vast and diverse country eased out. Fully Automated Cyber-Negotiations and computerized mediator makes it a much simpler process for advocates.

In June 2020, NITI Aayog, in association with Agami and Omidyar Network India, brought together key stakeholders in a virtual meeting for advancing Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India and subsequently on April 10 2021 a handbook on ODR was released.

There are various choices of ODR platforms that are either court-annexed, government run or even private platforms for the parties and advocates to choose from depending on the case. In fact, Law firms can theoretically implement their own ODR platforms similar to what many e commerce entities have done by either building these themselves or adopting a third-party platform such as CADRE, Centre for Alternate Dispute Resolution Excellence is a website based online dispute resolution platform that mainly deals with rental and tenant contract disputes for NestAway, an online home rental startup.

IDAC India is a platform for ODR. SAMA on the other hand is an ODR platform that enables easy access to high-quality ADR service providers and helps people to resolve disputes online. ICICI Bank is using Sama as the ODR platform to resolve nearly 10,000 disputes with values going up as high as INR 20 lakh. CODR or Centre for Online Dispute Resolution is an institution that administers cases online end to end.

Though the mechanism of online dispute resolution is doing great but still at its nascent phases it is estimated to tremendously grow in the coming years owing to its convenience and broad spectrum.

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