Online Dispute Resolution in India – A Study
(With Reference to Information Technology Act, 2000)
Volume III, Issue III, 2020
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a branch of dispute resolution which uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties. It primarily involves negotiation, mediation or arbitration, or a combination of all three. In this respect, it is often seen as being the online equivalent of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). However, ODR can also augment these traditional means of resolving disputes by applying innovative techniques and online technologies to the process.
ODR is a wide field, which may be applied to a range of disputes; from interpersonal disputes including consumer to consumer disputes (C2C) or marital separation; to court disputes and interstate conflicts. It is believed that efficient mechanisms to resolve online disputes will impact in the development of e-commerce. While the application of ODR is not limited to disputes arising out of business to consumer (B2C) online transactions, it seems to be particularly apt for these disputes, since it is logical to use the same medium (the internet) for the resolution of e-commerce disputes when parties are frequently located far from one another.
ODR was born from the synergy between Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), as a method for resolving disputes that were arising online, and for which traditional means of dispute resolution were inefficient or unavailable. The introduction of ICT in dispute resolution is currently growing to the extent that the difference between off-line dispute resolution and ODR is blurry. It has been observed that it is only possible to distinguish between proceedings that rely heavily on online technology and proceedings that do not. Some commentators have defined ODR exclusively as the use of ADR assisted principally with ICT tools. Although part of the doctrine incorporates a broader approach including online litigation and other sui generis forms of dispute resolution when they are assisted largely by ICT tools designed ad hoc. The latter definition seems more appropriate since it incorporates all methods used to resolve disputes that are conducted mainly through the use of ICT. Moreover, this concept is more consistent with the fact that ODR was born from the distinction with off-line dispute resolution processes.