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:
Housed inside the building is the mediation and arbitration centre and all of the infrastructure needed to ensure its functioning. Besides this, the building has a further 3 rooms which can be used to hold conferences and the simulation of decisions and arbitration sessions, which will be the responsibility of the Lisbon New University’s Faculty of Law.
Through this initiative, the Ministry of Justice aims to promote the use of alternative means of dispute resolution as swift, informal and easy-to-use solutions via a channel accessible on a planetary scale, as well as emphasise the importance placed by the Portuguese government and the Presidency of the European Union on these resolution processes.
The initiative will also be an experiment into the use of methods of dispute resolution in an entirely informal and virtual manner, which could have future applications in real disputes.
It should be noted that in Second Life alone the number of resident avatars already exceeds 8 million, thereby representing a sufficient community of users to justify the creation of a dispute resolution centre.
Through this initiative, Portugal has become the first country to provide a means of dispute resolution in Second Life. Any Second Life resident with a dispute with any other resident related to a contract established in Second Life can use the Arbitration Centre provided by the eJustice Centre to settle the conflict.
The process is started by submitting a request for ADR to the eJustice Centre. The other party will then be notified and asked to accept settling the dispute using the eJustice Centre.
If they agree, both parties will then pay a fee for using the eJustice Centre (1% of the value under dispute) as well as deposit an escrow with the eJustice Centre up to 5% of the value under dispute (as a guarantee that they will submit to the decision made through mediation or arbitration). [Note: currently the fee is waived]
Both parties are then notified to present themselves to a mediation session. Mediation is an informal and flexible procedure where a third party — the mediator — will help both to enter an agreement to solve the dispute.
If during mediation, an agreement is found, the process finishes; if not, the arbitration phase begins.
Arbitration is presided by a panel of one to three arbitration judges, who will make an arbitration trial on the dispute, and, at the end, will emit a final decision.
If one party does not follow the decisions of the eJustice Centre, or does not follow the agreement established through mediation, the money held in escrow is given to the other party,
The mediation and arbitration provided by the eJustice Centre are overseen by the RAL Lab of the New University of Lisbon’s Law School.