The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has set up a new advisory group, chaired by Professor Richard Susskind OBE, to explore the role that Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) can play in resolving civil disputes.
ODR involves the resolution of disputes across the internet, using techniques such e-negotiation and e-mediation.
Professor Susskind said:
“ODR is already used widely. Perhaps its best known application is on eBay where, each year, over 60 million disagreements amongst traders are resolved using online techniques and not the courts. The CJC advisory group will be looking at the wider potential for ODR. Can it resolve disputes amicably without the expense and trauma of parties having to go to court.
“We are also going to explore the limitations and drawbacks of ODR – while our starting place is that ODR offers great potential, especially for sorting out lower value claims, there will inevitably be issues that need flagging up to protect consumers and businesses.
The Chairman of the CJC, Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, said:
“The CJC is always interested in exploring ways for improving the civil justice system and making it more accessible. Online Dispute Resolution certainly offers opportunities for doing this, and we await the report of Richard Susskind’s group with great interest.”
The advisory group comprises leading academics with a special interest in ODR to legal and mediation practitioners, with business and Civil Service policy and operational representatives as well.
Its terms of reference also call for the group to examine the overlap between ODR and virtual courts and asks the group to consider likely technological developments in this rapidly changing field.
The group is due to report to the CJC in the first instance.
Notes for Editors
- The membership of the Working Group is as follows:
Professor Richard Susskind (Chairman)
Dr Pablo Cortés, University of Leicester
Adrian Dally, Financial Ombudsman Service.
Paul Harris, HM Courts and Tribunals Service
Dr Julia Hornie, Queen Mary University of London
Matthew Lavy, Barrister
Nick Mawhinney, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
David Parkin, Ministry of Justice
Dr Sue Prince, University of Exeter
Graham Ross, lawyer and mediator
Beth Silver, Barclays Bank (and CJC member)
Roger Smith, researcher, journalist and consultant
Tim Wallis, independent mediator
Peter Farr (Secretary to the Civil Justice Council)
- The Terms of Reference of the group is as follows:
- To conduct a review of the potential and limitations of the use of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) for resolving civil disputes of value less than £25,000 in England and Wales.
- To review and categorise existing forms of ODR, to consider their likely future development and in so doing to raise awareness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of ODR.
- To undertake an initial cost/benefit analysis of ODR as an alternative and accessible means of resolving disputes, identifying clearly any limitations and drawbacks of ODR processes.
- To kick-start the policy process of considering options for ODR provision and regulation.
- To take account of technological advances and developments that will affect the use and attractions of ODR.
- To consider the overlaps between ODR and virtual courts.
- To prepare a report for the CJC (in the first instance), with recommendations for next steps or further research required.