This paper aims to introduce technological advanced techniques of dispute
resolution that have gained utmost importance especially amidst and post
pandemic world. The author aims to shed light on two major ODR mechanisms, i.e.
E-Arbitration and E-Mediation. Further, the author through his paper has also
highlighted the worldwide scenario of the E-Arbitration and E-Mediation.
The author has concluded that the latter is far more convenient, time saving and
effective dispute resolution technique. The author has also suggested further
measures to enhance the process and adapt it in the similar manner in which
litigation has been adapted in India.
In India, litigation is the standard dispute resolution technique that has been
opted by common man since ages. Despite, it being the most popular dispute
resolution mechanism, is time consuming, non-confidential and costs almost a
fortune to the parties. Apart from these, there are numerous other drawbacks
of opting litigation as a dispute resolution due to which the parties to the
disputes have began resorting to Alternate Dispute Resolution Techniques.
There are five major alternate dispute resolution mechanisms i.e. Arbitration,
Mediation, Conciliation, Negotiation and Lok Adalat. Though these dispute
resolution techniques seem to develop over the previous three decades but its
presence and use cannot be negated in the ancient Indian history.
The development of technology and cyberspace has introduced a new dimension to
these alternate dispute resolution techniques. Online Dispute Resolution
(hereinafter referred as ODR) is an Online Dispute Resolution mechanism wherein
the disputes are resolved via virtual platforms instead of being physically
present with the parties. This concept of ODR as a dispute resolution
mechanism was introduced in 1990s.
It can take place in two formats, i.e. the resolution of online disputes taking
place in cyber domain and the disputes though arising in physical world but the
mode of resolution is opted as virtual mode. These disputes are addressed by the
parties via various online platforms that provide online dispute resolution
Amongst all the dispute resolution mechanisms, Arbitration and Mediation are the
most popular as well as advantageous techniques of resolution of disputes
between the parties. These techniques are advantageous even while resolving the
disputes on a virtual platform. E-Arbitration and E-Mediation are more
convenient due to the intervention of a third neutral party which aids in better
resolution of the dispute.
Arbitration is one of the globally recognized alternate dispute resolution
mechanisms which is known for its finality of orders and arbitral awards. The
revolution of technology and internet has not just rapidly increased the
importance of arbitration through conventional methods but also in through
online platforms. Unlike the traditional Arbitration, the procedure of
E-Arbitration depends upon the availability, utilization and knowledge of the
technology apart from financial aspect and availability of arbitrator. It has
been established as a dynamic dispute resolution technique over the years as it
changes with change in technology.
Unlike conventional Arbitration proceedings, E-Arbitration offers more
flexibility to the parties. Even though it involves a long process, it is much
more convenient for the parties. The first step towards resorting
E-Arbitration is choosing the platform on which the proceedings of the
Arbitration shall take place. After the platform has been decided, the parties
through their legal representatives register themselves on the particular
platforms and file claim petitions.
The petitions then after being filed are succeeded by the digital signature of
the documents by the parties. The fees of the registration and the
administrative charges of the arbitration proceeding is to be calculated by the
IDRC Arbitration Rules, 2018. This process is facilitated for both types of
dispute resolution techniques that are mentioned above. Further, the allocation
of Arbitrators is done which is followed by the sending of notices to the
Once the notices have been sent to the parties, the virtual platform completes
the procedure of booking time slots as per the availability. These bookings can
be for both online as well as offline sessions. This shall be followed by paying
up the charges of such booking or registration of slots.
After the date and time for the Sessions of Arbitration has been scheduled, the
process starts with the presence of the parties, their representatives and the
Arbitrators along with the one representative of the platform that takes up the
responsibility to manage the entire session. If it is an Online Arbitration
Session, then the entire process takes place through video conferencing wherein
particular meeting credentials are provided to the concerned parties and members
involved in the matter.
The proceedings lead towards signing of the agreement after the issues have been
discussed by the parties and resolved with the help of the Arbitrator. In a
virtual session, the signing of an agreement is performed by the way of digital
Mediation is considered as the most preferred mode amongst other dispute
resolution mechanisms. It is because it is a client driven process, and the
third party or the neutral party only acts as assistance in mediation unlike
Arbitration where the decision of the Arbitrator is final and binding on the
However, the advent of technology has brought some changes in the process of
E-mediation. Most of the e-service providers that provide platform to the
parties for conducting the process of mediation have replaced E-mediators with
technology. In such situations, the system takes inputs from the parties
about their issues and provides for solutions based upon such inputs. This
procedure can either take place via e-mails or via video conferencing.
Although, the Artificial Intelligence has replaced the human need at various
instances but there are instances where a human can intervene and resolve
disputes efficiently. The e-service providers are though providing the services
of E-mediation without the intervention of third party but there have been
failures in such situations.
The process of mediation is well established because of the intervention of the
third party which understands the gravity of the situation and makes both the
parties aware of their needs and well being. The technological advancement
negates the human factor in the process which increases the risk of its
failure. Some of the e-service providers offer the process of E-mediation as
recourse after the failure of the process of Negotiation between the
The entire procedure for E-Mediation is similar to that of E-Arbitration wherein
a platform is decided by the parties for the process to be conducted upon which
is followed by the registration, booking, payment and then the proceedings. As
the process is non-binding in nature, the parties may or may not agree to the
terms and conditions.
Conventional Mechanism or ODR: A Comparison
The conventional Alternate dispute resolution techniques and the online dispute
resolution techniques, both have their own merits and demerits. However, the
Online Dispute Resolution is still considered a better way of resolving the
disputes as compared to that of conventional mode. Following are the reasons:
- Online dispute resolution is more flexible and informal process as
compared to the conventional methods of ADR that is governed by strict rules
- ODR is more time saving mechanism as compared to that of physical ADR
- ODR is more cost efficient comparatively.
- It is a better mode of dispute resolution when the relationship between
the parties has been ruined to a greater extent. It helps in smooth
functioning of the proceedings when such parties are at distance. For eg, in
- It turns out to be more convenient in the cases where the parties could
not travel to the physical proceedings as they can participate in the
proceedings from any part of the world.
Despite the barrier of technological illiteracy and connectivity issues
during the procedure, it is still considered as a better dispute resolution
mechanism as compared to the conventional methods.
The European Union has been planning developments in the field of ODR since
2004. The Online Dispute Resolution Techniques have been adopted by European
Union in 2015. This dispute resolution mechanism has been adopted for the
resolution of consumer complaints. In EU, it is required by the all the State
members to implement the online dispute resolution mechanisms for consumer
complaints. This initiation has yielded good results towards resolution of
consumer dispute resolution in European Union.
The Online Dispute Resolution Advisory Group of the United Kingdom presented a
report titled 'Online Dispute Resolution for Low Value Claims' to the Civil
Justice Council in 2015. The Advisory group made a recommendation to establish
an online court for low value civil claims that shall be known as HM Online
Court. This was one of the biggest step towards the implementation of Online
Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in United Kingdom. This report was followed by the
'Final report on the Civil Courts Structure Review' by Lord Justice Briggs in
2016 which proposed the introduction of new online court.
There have been various measures adopted by Australia for the efficient
resolution of family disputes. One such mechanism is Online Dispute Resolution
technique. The Family Court of Australia has been equipped with various
technological tools to assist them in resolution of family disputes. The
e-filing for the divorce matters through Commonwealth court's portal is one such
advancement towards implementation of ODR.
There has been a long tussle to bring the Online Dispute Resolution as an ADR
mechanism in India. The prolonged litigation has brought hardship to various
litigants who approach the court for petty matters. Apart from this fact, the
outburst of Covid-19 virus led to backlash of cases in courts. This made the
introduction and implementation of ODR in India more essential. Niti Ayog, the
public policy think tank of the government of India, launched an ODR handbook in
April 2021. It was the first step towards development of Online Dispute
Resolution System in India.
The outburst of pandemic created a lot of complexities in the functioning of
justice delivery system worldwide. This complexities and hurdles made the world
realize the need of the technologically advanced justice delivery system. As,
petty disputes that can be resolved outside the purview of courts does not
involve the hecty procedures as that of litigation, such disputes can be
resolved with the help of technology.
The concept of Online Dispute Resolution was already introduced to the world by
some of the countries but it was not yet in common practice. This pandemic and
the backlash of the cases in the courts made the world realize that there can be
a substitute to the situation. This chain of though led to formulation of
various ODR techniques by the world along with India.
E-Arbitration and E-Mediation are two such techniques that have been introduced
in India with the help of various platforms that provide e-services for dispute
resolution. The think tank of the government of India took a massive step by
indulging with such platforms to provide a speedier and cost efficient justice
delivery system to the country.
These two techniques are the most common dispute resolution techniques that have
been adopted by the parties due to their involvement of third parties in the
process who can determine the areas of conflict and suggest/provide the required
Written By: Kashish Khurana
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