ODR: A platform for assisting online dispute resolution

The online dispute resolution platform was initially designed for Small Claims Court disputes. Its purpose is to provide an online tool to resolve simple, low-intensity legal disputes (consumer disputes, etc.) concerning sums that do not make it worthwhile to go to court. The platform provides a simple, rapid, efficient two-step procedure: negotiation and then mediation. The procedure is voluntary, flexible, autonomous, independent and precedes bringing the dispute to court.


Description of the procedure

The two-step procedure is as follows:


1. Negotiation

The complainant creates a user account on the court’s website, and then completes a simplified form inviting the other party to negotiate, which includes identification and description of the parties and one or more proposed solutions. Next, the invitation is sent to the respondent, who has three options: (1) accept one of the proposed solutions, in which case a written agreement formalizing the accord will be sent to the parties by email; (2) respond to the invitation and engage in the negotiation process; or, if no response is given within a set time, (3) allow it to be presumed that the negotiation option is rejected and the case is closed. If negotiation fails, the parties can request the intervention of a mediator.


2. Mediation

The mediator’s role is to bring the parties to an agreement. His or her duties are to act as an intermediary between the parties, who communicate only through him or her, and to invite the parties to communicate and exchange documents. The mediator can suggest solutions, which the parties are free to accept or reject. The mediator has access to the case’s secure website, and can consult the information found there and the exchanges that occurred in the negotiation phase. If the parties come to an accord, a written agreement formalizing it will be sent to them by email. This two-step procedure is likely to be improved in the future thanks to the introduction of new electronic communications tools and the anonymous statistical data compiled by one of our software applications.


Incorporation of the platform into the Small Claims Court

 If the platform is incorporated into Small Claims Court procedures, a third step could be added so that the judge could take on the case and place the information in the case file automatically.


Possible applications for the platform

 The platform could be used to resolve low-intensity disputes, such as consumer disputes resulting from purchasing or renting goods or services in the physical world or on the internet, labour disputes and other cases of litigation, such as those relating to financial issues, neighbourly relations, family and administrative law.