Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platform for Electronic Commerce

Our E-Arbitration-T Project Online Dispute Resolution (organized by Eduardo Paz Lloveras and funded by the European Commission in 2000) was the first approach for an online dispute resolution mechanism for electronic commerce matters. (See The origins of E-Arbitration-T concept )

In 2013, the European Commission launched directive on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes which seeks to encourage traders and consumers to participate in these out-of-court mechanisms for resolving disputes. The directive does not give a consumer the right to force a business to use alternative dispute resolution procedures, although member states remain free to make participation mandatory.

In order to encourage the use of such mechanisms, the directive requires member states to ensure that these procedures are available where both parties agree to use them to resolve their dispute. The directive further provides for the establishment of entities to mediate disputes initiated by consumers against traders.
The directive does not deal with disputes initiated by traders or disputes between traders, and only applies to traders established in the EU and consumers resident in the EU in relation to contractual obligations stemming from sales or services contracts, both online and offline. The scope of the directive excludes health care services, public providers of further or higher education, and non-economic services that are performed for no economic consideration.
There is also an dispute resolution for online purchases. EU Regulation 524/2013 on online dispute resolution for consumer disputes entered into force in January 2016, and applies directly in all member states. The regulation obliges the EU Commission to set up a European-wide online platform specifically designed to help consumers seek redress if they have a problem with online purchases.

The Commission has indicated that the platform will be operational as from February 15 and it will be accessible through HERE.
The scope is to create a a single point of entry for consumer and traders alike, free of charge and fast.

The most important facts for traders and consumers:

  • The ODR Platform is an interactive and multilingual platform specifically designed for assisting consumers who have a complaint about goods or services they have bought online.
  • Consumers or traders, when agreeing to ODR, must complete an electronic complaint form, made available on the ODR Platform.
  • The parties then decide which ADR entity shall be competent to settle their contractual dispute. The ADR entities are bodies that comply with the binding quality requirements established by the ADR Directive and which are included in the national lists of ADR bodies.
  • The selected ADR entity shall handle the case entirely online and reaches an outcome within 90 days. The legal value of the decision of the ADR entity will depend on the form of ADR chosen (mediation, arbitration, conciliation, etc).
  • What do I need to do as an online trader?:As a trader engaging in online sales or service contracts with consumers and established within the European Union you will have to inform consumers about the existence of the ODR Platform as well as the possibility of using the ODR Platform for resolving your disputes.

More specifically, keep the following requirement in mind:

  • You must provide on your website(s) an electronic link to the ODR Platform and your own e-mail address. That link must be easily accessible for consumers.
  • If you make commercial offers to consumers via e-mail, similar information should be included in the e-mail.
  • The information shall also be provided in the general terms and conditions applicable to online sales and service contracts.

Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

¿How, exactly, PayPal resolves disputes between ecommerce merchants and their customers? Colin Rule, PayPals Director of Online Dispute Resolution was intervied by Practical eCommerce magazine:

Practical eCommerce (PeC): If an ecommerce customer pays for a legitimate product using PayPal and then decides he doesn’t like it and complains to PayPal, what will PayPal do?

Colin Rule: In cases where the buyer is simply disappointed in the item, we would encourage the buyer to work directly with the seller. PayPal does offer buyer protection, but this protection covers buyers for items that they didn’t receive and for items that are significantly not as described. It does not cover cases where the buyer is merely disappointed with the item or where the item did not meet the buyer’s expectations.

Practical eCommerce (PeC): What are a merchant’s options if a customer asks PayPal to hold payment?

Colin Rule: If a merchant does get a chargeback, a couple pieces of information can be extremely helpful to dispute it. Proof of delivery, such as online tracking offered by both USPS and UPS, can be critical evidence in reversing the chargeback. A copy of the buyer’s signature confirming receipt can also be extremely effective. Finally, if a merchant did refund the buyer at any point in time, proof of the refund (and/or the shipment of a replacement item) is important.

Practical eCommerce (PeC): What other options are available to merchants to address disputes?

Colin Rule: Again, we always encourage buyers and sellers to first try to work through disputes together. To help with that, we’ve launched the dispute resolution center – a step-by-step system designed to facilitate communication between the buyer and the seller in order to get resolution of the issue. Since launching PayPal Dispute Resolution, buyer claims against sellers decreased by 50 percent, and seller losses on PayPal due to chargebacks decreased 20 percent.

If the dialogue with the seller fails to produce a satisfactory result, the buyer can then escalate the dispute into a claim, where our claims specialists gather information from both parties, examine the case and work with both parties to try to fairly and efficiently resolve the claim. In this process, PayPal will ask sellers for documentation that helps us determine that they shipped the item to the buyer and that the item was as described. Continue reading Colin Rule PayPal’s Director of ODR interviewed by Practical eCommerce

Online Dispute Resolution emerging in Kerala, India

Online Dispute Resolution involving mediation and arbitration with the help of technology, was emerging as a branch of dispute resolution, Chief Justice of Kerala, H L Dattu said on Saturday. In India, this method is in its infancy stage and is gaining prominence day by day, he said after inaugurating the National Conference on court annexed mediation and role of institutional arbitration here.

With the enactment of Information Technology Act, 2000, e-commerce and e-governance have been given a formal and legal recognition. Even the traditional arbitration law of India has been reformulated and ‘Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996’ was enacted, he said.

In mediation, the practitioner has no advisory role, instead, a mediator renders help to parties to develop a shared understanding of the conflict and to work towards building a practical and lasting solution, he said.

He also emphasised the need for creating awareness on mediation among the general public. Continue reading Online Dispute Resolution emerging in Kerala, India

Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre HKIAC

With about 350 arbitration cases / year (mainly in construction matters) Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) is one of the most actives dispute resolution centres of the world. Main areas of activity of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre HKIAC are:

Negotiation: The most common form of dispute resolution is negotiation. By this means alone nearly all disputes are solved. If negotiations fail, it is necessary to seek the assistance of a neutral third party or several neutral third parties to facilitate a solution.

Mr. Christopher To, Secretary General of Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre HKIAC, video:

Conciliation and Mediation: Conciliation and Mediation are often terms used interchangeably and they are together referred to as mediation. Both involve the appointment of a third party to assist disputing parties to reach a settlement of their difference. The mediator is not given any power to impose a settlement. His function is to try to break any impasse and encourage the parties to reach an amicable settlement. In commercial disputes an impasse most often arises from either a lack of trust in the integrity of the other party or a genuine good faith difference of opinion on the facts underlying the dispute or on the probable outcome of the case were it to go to court. The mediator may act as a shuttle diplomat acting as a channel for communication filtering out the emotional elements and allowing the parties to focus on the underlying objectives. He will encourage the parties to reach an agreement themselves as opposed to having it imposed upon them. Continue reading Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre HKIAC

e-Justice Centre, ODR in Second Life

e-Justice Centre is an arbitration centre that belongs to the Portuguese Ministry of Justice and was developed in collaboration with the Department of Communication and Art of the University of Aveiro and the Faculty of Law of the Lisbon New University. This centre provides mediation and arbitration services for all avatars in Second Life in the resolution of disputes resulting from consumer relations or any other contract-based relations signed between parties.

The most interesting issue is that e-Justice Centre, is a mediation and arbitration centre, in the 3D virtual world of Second Life.

Picture of the virtual ODR centre e-Justice:

e-Justice Centre, ODR in Second Life
The centre provides mediation and arbitration services for avatars resident in Second Life, permitting the opportunity to decide on conflicts deriving from consumer relations or any contracts signed between parties. Users of the centre can opt to resolve submitted disputes through the application of Portuguese law or through the use of impartiality criteria. The functioning of the mediation and arbitration centre will be the responsibility of the Faculty of Law of the Lisbon New University via a protocol signed with the Ministry of Justice. Continue reading e-Justice Centre, ODR in Second Life

What is (and isn`t) ODR – Online Dispute Resolution?

Jason Krause, ABA Journal online, wrote a really interesting article about ODR. These are some of the most interesting ideas about it:

– The American Arbitration AssociationAAA – says ODR is used in only a small percentage of all cases settled, but it has seen recent growth. In 2006, 3,000 of the 160,000 cases the AAA handled were done digitally.

ODR, Online dispute resolution is a broad category: Any mediation, ar­bitration or dispute resolution that takes place outside of court and at least partially online qualifies. It differs from alternative dispute res­olution, which refers to processes outside governmental jurisdiction. ODR can mean anything from e-mailing documents and evidence to using videoconferencing to bring the sides together. And it has been most effective in international or long-distance disputes involving technology issues. Continue reading What is (and isn`t) ODR – Online Dispute Resolution?

2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution

2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution

The 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution will take place in Victoria, British Columbia. This important conference will held at venues including Royal Roads University, and the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific on Vancouver Island June 18-19, 2008. The photograph is of Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University. The Forum has as its purpose the bringing together of the world’s leading practitioners, academics, theorists, and online negotiation application developers, to share information, and to create a vehicle for ODR education.

The 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in Victoria will build on the research, applications and field development discussed at other international ODR meetings and workshops that were held in Geneva (2002 and 2003), Edinburgh (2003), Melbourne (2004), Bologna (2005), Brussels (2005), Cairo (2006), and Palo Alto (2007), Liverpool (2007) and Hong Kong (2007).

The 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution will consist of two days of plenary sessions and breakout sessions. The Forum brings together the world’s leading practitioners, academics, students, and civil society to discuss the resolution of disputes using online technologies. These disputes may range from b2c (Business to consumer) to the prevention of human rights violations in conflict regions, to reconciliation of opposing groups in armed conflict, to disputes over intellectual property on the internet. It also brings together the leading technology developers who design conflict resolution platforms for use legal, commercial, or insurance related disputes (i.e. PayPal). Keynote Speakers The organizing committee of the 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution notes that we have invited two special keynote speakers, Dr. Vinton Cerf, inventor of the Internet, and Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, Pax Nobel 1996 and President of East Timor). The presence of these notable persons on the world stage as our special guests indicates the importance and relevance of the Forum’s deliberations. The keynote speakers will add their unique perspectives on the possible uses of technology and the Internet to resolve disputes and create peace. Continue reading 2008 International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution

Cyberweek 2007 – The biggest Online Dispute Resolution ODR Forum

The 10th edition of ODR Cyberweek, Cyberweek 2007, will occur October 15 – 19, 2007. Cyberweek consists of many different kinds of activities and opportunities, from Skypecasts to Podcasts to discussion forums and more, all related to the topic of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Cyberweek is a free all-online conference and we invite you join us in both asynchronous and real-time events. Last year, we had several hundred participants from over forty countries Last year’s program is still accessible. Continue reading Cyberweek 2007 – The biggest Online Dispute Resolution ODR Forum

OECD urges to overhaul e-consumer dispute resolution – ODR or ADR

OECD urges to overhaul e-consumer dispute resolution – ODR or ADR

OECD countries have agreed a new approach to better protect the rights of consumers and make online shopping safer. They call on national authorities and business to make it easier, cheaper and quicker for people to resolve complaints and get compensation when they are unhappy with goods or services they have bought. The OECD member countries are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD.

The OECD Recommendation on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress offers a roadmap for consumer protection agencies to address the practical and legal obstacles that many consumers face when trying to exchange goods or get their money back from firms, in their own country or abroad.

Most OECD countries already have laws or self-regulated schemes to help consumers, ranging from small claims courts to credit card protection and collective action lawsuits. But most of these were designed before e-commerce took off and are poorly suited to handling cross-border complaints. The Recommendation advises countries on steps they should take to update their laws to take into account these new developments.

It also calls on member countries to develop bi-lateral or multi-lateral arrangements in order to improve international judicial co-operation and use technology more effectively, making it easier to share information across borders.

In addition to a framework that details the basic elements necessary to an effective consumer dispute resolution and redress mechanism, it highlights the need for countries, both at a government level and via consumer protection agencies, to tell consumers who to approach when they have a problem and what they can do to resolve it. Companies should also set out clear, simple policies that explain what steps customers should follow to make a complaint and then have it resolved.

Consumers should also have the right to band together to take legal action against a firm, known as “collective action lawsuits.” This is important because in most European countries even if consumers have the right to take collective action in principle, there are so many restrictions that in practice they cannot. This means that their only option is take a firm to court on their own, which is usually too expensive for most people to even consider.

The Recommendation builds on a substantial body of OECD work carried out over the past decade on consumer policy issues. These include the 1999 OECD Guidelines for Consumer Protection in the Context of Electronic Commerce (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/18/13/34023235.pdf), the 2003 OECD Guidelines for Protecting Consumers from Fraudulent and Deceptive Commercial Practices Across Borders ( www.oecd.org/dataoecd/24/33/2956464.pdf) and a 2005 Report on Consumer Dispute Resolution and Redress in the Global Marketplace (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/26/61/36456184.pdf).

See the full text of the Recommendation. For further information, journalists are invited to contact Peter Avery, OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Directorate (+ 33. 1. 45. 24. 93. 63).

For furher information, see www.oecd.org/sti/consumer-policy

ICT Strategy of India: an Online Disptute Resolution ODR Perspective

ICT Strategy of India: an Online Disptute Resolution ODR Perspective

The aim of this article is to stress upon the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for resolving contemporary electronic commerce (e-commerce) and other disputes. The best example of the same is the use of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) for resolving these disputes and misunderstandings. The Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ODRM) is gaining popularity among all the countries of the World, including India. There are, however, certain prerequisites that must be satisfied before ODRM can be effectively established and used in India.

I. Introduction

In the present globalised and decentralised world, India cannot afford to keep its economy closed and secluded. Thus, an interaction between Indian economy and world’s economy is inevitable. That is not a big problem. The real problem is to make Indian economy an efficient and competitive economy. Though there are many indicators for measuring the strengths and weaknesses of an economy, but the ICT strategy of a nation is very crucial to put it on a global map. It is very important that the ICT strategy and policies of a nation must not only be suitable but should also believe in a “holistic application and implementation”. The ICT strategy and policy of a nation cannot afford to keep the different components of ICT[1] separate. Their amalgamation and supplementation must be done at a priority basis otherwise the ICT strategy and policy will not bring the desired results.[2] The present ICT strategy and policies of India are deficient and defective.[3] It must be appreciated that the ICT is directly related to International Trade, more particularly e-commerce. Thus, when the Indian economy will be integrated with the Global economy certain disputes are bound to be there. We cannot use the traditional litigation methods to resolve those disputes. That will only put more pressure on the already overburdened courts. The fact is that the increasing backlog of cases is posing a big threat to our judicial system. The same was even more in the early 90 but due to the computerisation process in the Supreme Court and other courts that was reduced to a great extent. However, the backlog is still alarming.[4] This is because mere computerisation of Courts or other Constitutional offices will not make much difference. What we need is a will and desire to use the same for speedy disposal of various assignments. There is a lack of training among Judges regarding use of Information Technology (IT). We need a sound training of Judges first before we wish to capatilise the benefits of IT. A good initiative has already been taken by the Supreme Court.[5] However, the same appears to be dormant for the time being. Thus, we need a public initiative as well.[6] Besides, the use of ICT for ODR purposes is also inevitable due to the mandates of the “right to speedy trial” that is provided by the Constitution of India. Continue reading ICT Strategy of India: an Online Disptute Resolution ODR Perspective