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Article

What’s Good for ODR?

AI or AI

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Augmented Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, ODR
Authors Graham Ross
AbstractAuthor's information

    Whilst the coronavirus epidemic saw mediators turn to web conferencing in numbers to ensure mediations continued to take place, it is believed that the rate at which individual mediators, as opposed to organizations handling volumes of disputes, began to use online dispute resolution (ODR)-specific tools and platforms remained comparatively slow. Mediators may have felt that, in using web conferencing, they had made the move to ODR. Another hurdle standing in the way of generating confidence in ODR-specific tools is that exciting developments used the less were powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and yet mention of AI and algorithms would create its own barrier, in no small part due to examples of shortcomings with AI and algorithms outside of ODR. The writer feels that the future lies in developments in ODR that benefit from AI. However that is less the traditional meaning of the acronym being Artificial Intelligence but more as Augmented Intelligence. The paper explains the difference with Artificial Intelligence leaving the machine in control whilst Augmented Intelligence retains control and decision-making with the human but assisted by the machine to a degree or in a format not possible by the human alone. The paper highlights examples of two ODR systems applying Augmented Intelligence.


Graham Ross
Graham Ross is a UK lawyer and mediator with over 20 years of experience in IT and the law. Graham is the author of lthe original QUILL egal application software (accounts and time recording) and the founder of LAWTEL, the popular webbased legal information update service. Graham co-founded the first ODR service in the UK, WeCanSettle, designing the blind bidding software at the heart of the system. Graham subsequently founded TheMediationRoom.com, for whom he designed their online mediation platform. Graham speaks regularly at international conferences on the application of technology to ADR. Graham was host of the 5th International Conference on Online Dispute Resolution held in Liverpool, UK, in 2007 and has organised two other ODR conferences. Graham was a member of the EMCOD project which created a tool for the European Union for the measurement of justice through ODR. Graham was a member of the UK Civil Justice Council’s Advisory Group on Online Dispute Resolution, whose recommendations led to the creation of an online court for small claims. Graham is a Board Member of ICODR. Graham is also a leading trainer in ODR having created the accredited distance training course at www.ODRtraining.com.

Peter Holt
Peter Holt is Chief Product Development Officer at iCan Systems Inc.

Graham Ross
Graham Ross runs a distance training course on ODR for mediators and arbitrators at www.odrtraining.com and he is a member of the Civil Justice Council ODR Advisory Group.

Ernest Thiessen
Ernest Thiessen is President of iCan Systems Inc of British Columbia, developers of the Smartsettle eNegotiation and visual blind bidding system.

Diana Wallis
Diana Wallis is Former Vice-President of the European Parliament, past President of the European Law Institute and former Director of the International Mediation Institute.

Graham Ross
Graham Ross runs a distance training course on ODR for mediators and arbitrators at www.odrtraining.com and he is a member of the Civil Justice Council ODR Advisory Group.
Article

European Businesses and the New European Legal Requirements for ODR

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 2 2016
Keywords online dispute resolution (ODR), alternative dispute resolution (ADR), consumer disputes, EU legislation, e-commerce
Authors Graham Ross
AbstractAuthor's information

    In terms of practical use outside of e-commerce platforms such as eBay, ODR has not advanced as speedily as many thought might be the case. Two pieces of legislation by the European Parliament applying to consumer disputes, being the European Directive on Alternative Dispute Resolution For Consumer Dispute and the associated Regulation on Online Dispute Resolution have opened up the opportunity for that to change. For the first time, there now is a law that effectively requires businesses to promote ODR. However, with widespread breach, evidence of which is referred to in this paper, this law has not as yet been implemented or honoured as it should be and is in danger that its impact could thereby become counter-productive to its essential objective, albeit not its whole scope, in increasing public confidence in cross-border buying of products and services online. One problem is that the EU decided in their wisdom to stop short of making participation in online ADR mandatory. So we have the odd situation in which it is an offence for businesses to not inform a dissatisfied customer of the web address of an online ADR provider who has been approved under the legislation by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, yet when that customer seeks to use that service the business can refuse to participate. If refusal to participate is extensive, the situation could lead to a loss of trust generally in a law designed to improve consumer rights and access to justice. This is especially so if traders carry on their website the mandatory link to an EU portal that will refer dissatisfied consumers to an approved provider of online ADR, and which may have been a deciding factor for that consumer in selecting the particular trader to buy from, yet, when a complaint arises, refuse to participate in the provider selected by the consumer.
    Whilst awareness of ODR will grow as a result of this legislation, albeit as an awareness of ADR that will, in the sense of the medium for discussions and exchange of documents, operate online, I have concerns that broad awareness of the fullest extent of what ODR can offer by way of more advanced forms of ODR will not be fully achieved for some time. Whilst this law does indeed present a significant opportunity to expand the use of ODR, it will not happen without effort by those with interests, commercial or otherwise or both, in promoting the expansion of access to justice that ODR offers. Only in this way will this legislation help ensure that there is a commercial need to explore increasingly innovative technology.
    There is an even greater opportunity currently being lost by this legislation beyond consumer disputes. Given that ODR can enable mediation to take place at much more proportionate cost for disputes below the higher levels of value, ODR offers the opportunity to increase mediation’s share of ADR over arbitration. Further, if the public can begin to experience mediation in the busier field of consumer disputes, it would help more quickly embed mediation into our society’s vision of justice and make engagement in mediation for more complex disputes much more frequent. Instead, by lumping mediation in with ombudsman style adjudication, as does this legislation, a much less satisfactory process with at least one party, and often both, dissatisfied with the outcome, it lowers the satisfaction level of all forms of ADR.


Graham Ross
Head of the European Advisory Board to Modria.com Inc, Member of the Civil Justice Councils’ ODR Advisory Group and of its ADR Working Party, and Fellow of the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.
News

The Online Court

Misunderstandings and Misconceptions when Delivering a Vision for the Future of Justice

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2015
Keywords online courts, online judges, civil justice, Alternative Dispute Resolution, mediation
Authors Graham Ross
AbstractAuthor's information

    An ODR Advisory Group set up in 2014 by the Civil Justice Council of England and Wales to research and advise on the opportunities for introducing ODR into the justice system has produced a Report (<https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Online-Dispute-Resolution-Final-Web-Version1.pdf>) that recommends an extensive online dimension to the court system in England and Wales. The Report raises the novel perspective of a court being seen more as a service rather than as a physical venue, seeking to place its primary focus on informing and assisting the public in containing and resolving, if not avoiding in the first place, disputes and to do so with less intervention by a judge. When judges do become involved they also will be encouraged to work more online than in a courtroom. The Report, therefore, does not look simply at ODR as aiding ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution), as may have been the case hitherto for most applications of ODR, but as its being integral to the court process itself. The twin benefits the Group sees as being achieved are to both significantly widen access to the courts while, at the same time, reducing the burden of public cost incurred in operating and maintaining the court system.
    It is becoming clear from comments on the Report published online that there is a significant level of misunderstanding over certain aspects of the Report. This is to be expected to a degree, especially given the wide publicity for the Report. Indeed, the early comments are welcomed as they give the opportunity to all proponents of the Report to advance the debate by minimizing such misunderstandings.
    The website (<https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/reviews/online-dispute-resolution/>) accompanying the Report provides a suitable venue to continue the debate.


Graham Ross
Head of the European Advisory Board to Modria.com Inc and, Member of the Civil Justice Council’s ODR Advisory Group.
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