7 PM Editorial |Online Dispute Resolution for Affordable and Accessible Justice|13th August 2020

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Online Dispute Resolution for Affordable and Accessible Justice


COVID 19 pandemic has disrupted normal delivery of public services. Judicial system and justice delivery is one such impacted area.

Yet pandemic has given opportunity for fast tracking technology adoption in justice delivery. The Supreme Court(SC) and other courts are continuing adjudication using technology. Video conferencing infrastructure, e-filing, e-lok adalats are being evolved to ensure justice delivery adapts to the post pandemic world. This increases the efficiency of justice delivery.

In this context, ODR(Online Dispute Resolution) can be expanded to further strengthen justice delivery in India

ODR: Features and benefits:

Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) mechanisms resolves disputes outside traditional courts by reaching a compromise and settlement. Hence ADR reduces case load on courts. In India, about 3 crore cases are pending before lower and higher judiciary. Due to this ADR becomes vital in ensuring “timely justice”. ADR mechanisms in India include Lok adalats, arbitration and conciliation, family courts etc.

ODR uses technology to make the ADR mechanisms more efficient, accessible and affordable. It has following features:

  • Video conferencing and technology to transmit information. This reduces costs of litigation and makes the process faster. Example is the use of email to send e-summons.
  • Doing away with physical presence requirements: No need for litigants to be present at the same time and can record statements at a place convenient to them. This increases accessibility.
  • Technology enabled insightswhich can form part of resolution. This improves decisions during resolution.

Hence ODR can improve ease of living and ease of access to justice by introducing flexibility in resolution proceedings.

COVID 19 is expected to increase disputes and hence ODR becomes crucial in preventing high pendency. Recognizing this, multiple countries have adopted ODR:

  • EU has ODR platform for e-commerce disputes
  • Singapore International arbitration centre has adopted videoconference based hearings
  • MI Resolve by USA to resolve small disputes
  • UK, Canada too are adopting it for small disputes

India too needs to scale up use of ODR to enable efficient justice delivery.

Implementation of ODR:
  • Small and medium value disputescan utilize ODR
  • Changing mindset: ODR as a service rather than administration of justice seen in courts. This provides flexibility.
  • Capacity and capability building of personnel involved in handling technology
  • Infrastructure creation in terms of technology use – Video Conferencing software, computers, cybersecurity etc .

In a world disrupted by pandemic, innovative justice delivery systems are needed to handle potential rise in disputes. Technology enabled ODR can be the solution which ensures timely, affordable and efficient justice.

Source: https://www.livemint.com

Mains question:
  1. What is Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR)? Technology enabled ADR can make justice delivery timely, affordable and efficient. Explain? [15 marks, 250 words]
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