Friday, October 26, 2012

E-Filing and Online Dispute Resolution

The Canadian Forum on Court Technology generated some ideas on how E-Filing and ODR could potentially complement one another.


The second edition of the Canadian Forum on Court Technology hosted by the Canadian Centre for Court Technology and Association of Canadian Court Administrators was held earlier this week in Montreal, Canada.  There were many interesting and thought provoking presentations including discussions on Electronic Trials, eCourt Strategy, Managing Court Data, Court Website Design and Social Media use by the courts.

However, one series of sessions regarding Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) activities got my attention particularly when I learned that the Province of British Columbia’s Dispute Resolution Office has plans for such a system.

There is an excellent article in Wikipedia on ODR.  The article notes that such systems involve online versions of traditional alternative dispute resolution including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.  It is a good starting place for background on the general subject.

But until now we haven't heard of a court/government program considered integrating ODR as part of an overall E-filing solution.  As the self-represented have become a significant issue in courts; and self-represented systems/electronic forms are being developed to help the public; doesn't it make sense to look at ODR as a potential “off ramp” to solve matters before they become cases?  I could even potentially see “estimated case resolution times” for say small claims versus ODR shown on the court’s website just as some hospital emergency rooms display this information on billboards.  This would give the potential e-filers the chance to choose the alternative thus saving both them and the court time and money.

If anyone has this in their plans or has seen this in action please share with us in the comment section below.

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