top of page
  • Anshu Sharma

"Exploring the Potential Impact of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India"

Anshu Sharma,

Delhi Metropolitan Education affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University

Online Dispute Resolution(ODR) in India

Introduction

Online dispute resolution, popularly known as ODR is a way through which disputes of low to medium value are resolved. It is a combination of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) methods like mediation, negotiation, arbitration, and conciliation but with a touch of digital technology. To resolve conflicts, it is available both inside and outside the conventional judicial system. Globally, people are becoming more aware of the advantages or benefits provided by procedures being followed in online dispute resolution. These procedures allow parties to resolve conflicts easily without any long process but with the use of technology to the fullest. In India, the public is significantly more aware of these procedures and their benefits. It is a wide field that involves interpersonal disputes, marital separation, interstate disputes, consumer-to-consumer disputes, business-to-business disputes, and even court disputes to an extent.

Evolution and Framework of ODR in India

The Information Technology Act, of 2000 and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, of 1996 initiated ODR in India by recognising e-contracts. These laws established the groundwork of using technology to resolve conflicts and ODR came into the picture as an alternative to traditional techniques with the growth in digital infrastructure and internet access.

In June 2020, NITI Aayog established a committee to integrate ODR into standard procedures. This committee was led by Justice AK Sikri. A report titled "Designing the future of dispute resolution: the ODR policy plan for India" was published by this committee where strategies were laid out to improve ODR adoption at the structural, behavioral, and regulatory levels. Simply, it involved establishing a soft touch regulatory approach, increasing knowledge of technology, and using ODR for disputes concerning with government.

Nowadays, promoting ODR services is a national initiative for digital transformation for the Indian government. ODR services are being provided by several public and private initiatives. SAMA, CADRE, CODR, Presolv360, AGAMI, and WeVaad are a few examples that provide these services to people.

Essential Features of ODR

ODR is a new way of resolving conflicts with the help of traditional dispute resolution methods and technology to provide efficient, accessible, and cost-efficient resolution platforms to the public. The following are a few essential features of online dispute resolution: -

1.   Easy access and inclusiveness

These resolution platforms offer a simple user interface that enables both organisations and individuals to resolve disputes. For industries where market engagement is widespread, this can be beneficial as it encourages quick resolution as opposed to inflexible court procedures that have been in place for years, also it eliminates the requirement for travel and schedule syncing.

2.   Value for money

The cost of legal fees, travel, and managerial costs tend to be high in traditional dispute resolution procedures. ODR is a new and useful alternative for industries that are looking for an effective yet affordable resolution system because it significantly reduces these expenses.

3.   Value for time

Using technology speeds up the dispute resolution process. For industries where delays might cause serious monetary consequences, quick resolution is important. ODR platforms speed up discussions, settlements, and legal representation in cases.

4.   Allows negotiations

As online negotiations and mediation are based on reaching a mutually satisfactory solution or outcome, they encourage negotiation and lessen the combative and complex nature of the dispute resolution process.

5.   Data storage

Preserving data through traditional methods was time-consuming and confusing at the same time. So, one of the most frequent issues in India is storing documents which have been replaced by online dispute resolution systems where data is stored online. 

Types of ODR

The following types are a wide range of techniques and methods used to resolve disputes using digital platforms and technologies: -

1.   Bidding or Blind Negotiation

Parties submit monetary requests and offer negotiation without revealing themselves to one another. These offers are compared round by round through a computer. The matter is decided for an average or matching sum if they are equal or fall inside a predetermined range.

2.   Online negotiation

Online dispute resolution helps to facilitate by creating a positive online environment. The parties interact with each other through a mix of in-person meetings, phone conversations, and Internet communication. It provides ideas for a provisional resolution, which assists parties to arrive at a decision quickly and fairly.

3.   Document arbitration

In this method, emails and documents are used for arbitration. Communication between parties and arbitrators is done through email, including the submission of agreements, arguments, and supporting documents. It also involves online transactions which is a practical way to settle disputes.

4.   Video conferencing arbitration

This is a method where video conferencing is used for arbitration. Parties conduct arbitration procedures remotely by joining from any location but with access to an internet connection. It is a copy of in-person meetings where parties and the mediator communicate privately.

Types of Disputes handled by ODR platforms

1.   Interpersonal disputes

Interpersonal disputes are the conflicts that arise between individuals like neighbors, family members, or business partners on issues like property disputes, contractual disagreements, or any personal problems. ODR is this type of dispute that allows parties to communicate and work towards a resolution.

2.   Marital separation

Marital disputes occur when a married couple decides to separate due to conflicts on property division, child custody, and financial support. ODR provides a platform to these couples where they communicate and negotiate with the help of an Arbitrator and reach a mutual solution.

3.   Interstate disputes

An interstate dispute occurs when there are conflicts or disagreements between two or more states. ODR helps these states to communicate and resolve the issue online, saving time and money.

4.   Consumer-to-consumer disputes

C2C disputes occur when individuals buy or sell goods and services through online platforms like websites and social media platforms and conflicts arise there. ODR platforms help parties to communicate their complaints and grievances and work towards mutually accepted solutions. 

5.   Business-to-business disputes

B2B disputes happen when two companies or organisations disagree with a transaction or contract. Through ODR procedures, companies settle these disputes more efficiently and effectively instead of going to actual court which works slowly and is costlier in comparison to the ODR system.

Modes of Communication used in ODR

The accessibility of multiple communication modes or channels to a user is an advantage of a virtual setting over an offline one. As different types of conflicts call upon various types of modes, it is important to choose the right mode for the process. The following are a few communication modes used: -

1.   E-mail

It is among the simplest and most popular forms of communication known today. It lets the sender send attachments, such as text, images, audio, and video files. It helps to submit pleadings, provide documentary evidence, and communicate with the parties on administrative matters.

2.   Instant messaging

It conveys the message to the receiver immediately. In this mode, all message senders are online and linked to one another using a popular instant messaging service. They can open a shared window to hold discussions, or they can open separate windows to speak privately with one or more people. This method works well with online mediation and other platforms where parties and the mediator can communicate interactively.

3.   Discussion boards

These boards are used when a large number of people wish to share their perspectives on ne or more problems. If everyone just uses the email system, it may become difficult to figure out who is responding to questions or which problem. These boards are collections of messages from several users posted in one location so that the complete conversation may be seen at a glance. To provide a clear image of the party's opinion on each issue, a thread discussion board is created where all comments and replies are grouped under a single head. This form is mostly helpful in business conflicts.

4.   Audio Conferences

Real-time communication among users is a primary goal of audio-talk. Modern telephone technology allows to holding of audio conferences in which multiple people can participate in simultaneously speaking and listening, or hold discussions between a group of people on either side. It is beneficial in conversations, mediations, and arbitrations.

5.   Video conferences

The most effective technique for ODR is video conferencing. The only one that approaches the face-to-face setting is this, where it combines the benefits of both visual and auditory resources. In this mode, users of the system can simultaneously see, hear, and respond to other users. Therefore, it is extremely helpful for oral arguments.

Benefits Businesses or Organisations get by opting for ODR 

The growth of online dispute resolution in India represents a shift in the way that enterprises handle disputes. Businesses that use technology can provide prompt and fair dispute resolution as well as cost savings.

1.   Online and retail sales

There has been a rise in conflicts on transactions, deliveries, and quality issues in the e-commerce industry. By offering a simplified process for selling these conflicts, ODR promotes trust between customers and companies. Fast response promotes clients' loyalty and happiness.

2.   Real estate and construction

Complex contractual arrangements are a common feature of the real estate and construction industries. Through ODR, disputes of the quality standards, project delays, and breaches of contract can be effectively resolved. This increases investor's confidence and helps in the implementation of projects more easily.

3.   Banking and Financial management

These dispute resolution platforms help the financial industry settle arguments about Internet transactions, digital banking services, and contract disputes. The rapid settlement guarantees minimum interference with financial activities and contributes to the preservation of the integrity of the industry.

4.   Technology and intellectual property

In today's technologically advanced world, fights over intellectual property are frequent. ODR gives platforms for effectively resolving trademarks, copyrights, and patent disputes. To promote innovation and safeguard intellectual property, this is essential.

5.   Healthcare and pharmaceuticals

ODR can be extremely helpful in settling conflicts on contracts, legal compliance, and intellectual property because of the increasing complexity of the transactions in these industries. This supports the industry’s overall stability.

Issues faced while using ODR

Despite the improvement and advancements in ODR in India, several issues and challenges arise and hinders its efficiency and effectiveness. These issues and challenges are mentioned below: -

1.   Insufficient digital infrastructure

A strong national technological framework is essential for ODR integration. This includes maintaining internet connections, smartphones, and PCs available for use as long as necessary to have productive hearings. Poor regulations of this kind are likely to hurt people with less access to digital infrastructure.

2.   Lack of Digital Knowledge

According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, 38% of Indian families lack a basic understanding of digital technology. Thus there is a need for both targeted activities to popularise the basic skill sets needed to access ODR services and programs.

3.   Privacy and confidentiality concerns

This includes altering digital evidence or digitally delivered agreements, online impersonation, and breach of confidentiality caused by the distribution of documents and data provided through these procedures.

4.   Implementing decisions made during the process

In India, it can be challenging and time-consuming to enforce administrative decisions. In the majority of states, stamp duties are required. In an otherwise end-to-end online process, obstacles are introduced by the outdated requirement for attaching an eStamp certificate to the document.

5.   Legal enforceability

Mistrust is rooted in several issues, ranging from questions on technology to enforceability of the findings.

6.   Mutual consent of parties

One of the primary and crucial issues is the admissibility that whether through separate mutual agreement, parties agree to initiate the procedure. Without this, any decision provided will not be legally valid or enforceable against the parties.

Conclusion

Observing the recent growth of ODR in India it can be said that it has made significant changes in the legal landscape of the nation through legal reforms as well as technological improvements. The government takes initiatives to promote online dispute resolution in the country such as the ODR Policy Plan by NITI Aayog and is fulfilling the commitment of bringing technology in this matter. All these services are being actively provided by both private and governmental initiatives. Also, not-for-profit organisations like AGAMI are putting in the effort to increase the efficiency and availability of dispute resolution. Issues like digital infrastructure, privacy, and literacy rate are continuously creating problems but despite all this, India is well positioned to take benefits of technology for effective and inclusive dispute resolution as long as present chances are made to address them and improve the procedures. 

References

 





 






 


1 commentaire


Tanishka Rana
Tanishka Rana
14 juin

Insightful

J'aime
bottom of page