On February 16, 2015, the Civil Justice Council announced proposals for a system of Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”). The idea is that certain disputes can be resolved without the need to attend court. The move comes amidst claims that the current court system is failing to handle small claims in a timely and cost effective manner. As many will know, eBay operates its own dispute resolution centre on its platform, and having solved almost 60 million disputes last year, it seems as though that model may have resonated with our own judicial system.
Whilst there will undoubtedly be some scepticism amongst litigators that work is being taken off their desks, I adopt an entirely difference view point. The current system for low-value litigation is too costly, complicated and laborious. It is often the case that legal issues are uncomplicated and do not require extensive legal advice, and many low value disputes remain unresolved because it is not cost effective to run the case through the courts.
ODR ought to make resolving low value disputes cheaper and easier, and in my view it ought to be seen as an entirely appropriate forum for those who are happy to trade online and enter into legal contracts online.
I was invited to speak on BBC 5 Live, on the 'Up All Night' programme with Rhod Sharp. You can listen to the full discussion by following the link and forwarding to 1 hour 23 minutes. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0528rcz