In this article, we examine the concept of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) as an installation method in the Indian judicial system. Due to COVID-19, everyone was struck at home, thus all business transactions, markets, sales, and purchases are taking place online. Thus, it maximizes the chances of dispute among the people. Therefore, ODR was needed as a new method to resolve disputes. It is now playing a major role in reducing the burden on Indian courts by facilitating more out-of-court settlements virtually. This amazing thing in the world plays an important role in the development of any country. ICT and technology are almost used in every field except the field. The government has adopted many different types of technologies, apps, and websites in this sector so that the working of the Indian judicial system goes smoothly. But due to COVID-19, no judge, lawyer, or client could be present in court. So, the court took the proceedings online but faced lots of problems. ODR is one of the important forms of solving disputes virtually within a short time. Today, ODR is also playing a vital role in reducing the burden on courts in the Indian judicial system, with the assistance of the internet and technology.
What is ODR?
In the trendy global scenario, with the boom in cross-border transactions, there the need for the resolution of disputes arose because of such transactions. Thus, the need led to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) as the better version of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which resolves disputes with the assistance of advanced technology ODR is a mechanism to resolve disputes collaboratively outside of court; it integrates technology with relied-upon mechanisms of dispute resolution: negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. In simple words, ODR is the use of technology to help parties resolve their disputes outside the courtroom. As it operates with the assistance of the internet, it is also referred to as “Internet Dispute Resolution” (IDR). ODR is one of the best available options for reinforcing the redress of consumer grievances, strengthening their trust in the market, and promoting the sustainable growth of e-commerce.
Advantages of ODR
Nowadays, in this modern world of technology, the ODR performs a critical role in fixing the dispute resolution process. In face-to-face negotiations or discussions, one of the parties may have the benefit of the location, and the resolution process may be in his favor. Thus, ODR turns out to be the most important concept. Online communication is important because, as mentioned above, it saves time and money and can be done at the person’s convenience. It not only enables you to control your communication but also helps in monitoring the same; thus, it is called hyper-personal communication.
ODR helps us in the following ways:
- Cost Effective: In dispute resolution, one of the most important terms is this cost. ODR is so simple to handle and is available at less price. ODR is the best option as all the financial demands needed to be shared between parties can be shared easily and with less cost using emails, video conferencing, etc.
- Fast: As compared to ADR the ODR is the fastest way for dispute resolution. Through ODR the parties can get connected within less time by sitting in different areas. The amount of the award decided between the parties can be transferred easily with less time.
- Data Storage: In ADR it is difficult to store every document related to dispute resolution while in ODR the data can be transmitted or saved easily.
Challenges of ODR
- Digital illiteracy: ODR is one of the best methods for dispute resolution but only if when one knows how to use it. It is very easy and helpful only if the person knows how to use it, but more difficult if he doesn’t know using the technology due to a lack of education. In some cases, they may know the importance of knowledge but are unable to complete their education due to family issues. Here illiterate means digital illiteracy they don’t know how to use this digital device thus this may lead to the failure of ODR. They didn’t have the basic knowledge of using technology effectively. And some literate people do not know how to use ODR effectively. Thus, before adopting ODR we need to give people training on using ODR. Thus, before adopting the ODR we need to make sure that every person should know how to use it.
- Cultural differences: In developing countries like India, it is difficult to adopt this type of system because India is a country with diverse cultures. Lots of people do not use technology thus it is tby result of why ODR is less active in India.
- Digital Infrastructure: In India, still many of the people don’t know the use of technology. For the adoption of ODR we need to make the sure that the resources are available for everyone.
- Privacy: Secrecy and privacy are not maintained online and it plays an important role in dispute resolution. Many ODR service providers have installed different technologies for protection. Though all the precautions have been taken it is dangerous when hackers try to break it or acquire the data.
Role of Technology in Lowering the Gap
Online Dispute Resolution, or ODR, has arisen due to the need to lower the gap between the court and the parties in disputes. ODR has been playing an important role in the leading global practices of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and combining them with the latest technology. All walks of life in our country are going online. Now-a-days, we also have e-courts that contain the record as well as information about different cases. The ODR was the one that helped a lot at the time of COVID-19 by lowering the gap between the court, advocate & client. The ODR nowadays is also working at its best to solve every issue. Before implementing the ODR into our judicial system, it should be taken into consideration that it is multipronged and multisectoral, focusing mainly on dispute resolution. The system should be so advanced that only the cases that need judicial resolution should reach the courts, and the other cases must be prevented. Also, care should be taken that the problem as early as possible before it reaches the stage of a dispute.
Judicial Preparedness and Acceptance
Technology and science are a never-ending, ever-evolving process. Numerous new technologies requiring forward thinking are likely to be deployed soon. Online dispute resolution is seen as an important part of the evolution of the legal paradigm. Similarly, the government, legislature, and judiciary, through their judgment and practice, have been creating a framework for ODR in India. The judiciary lends legitimacy to similar efforts in the ADR mechanism by increasing its reliance on ICTs in the judicial process and recognizing the need for technological solutions to challenges to the justice system. Government in 2005 adopted the use of technology in the different sectors from Tehsils to the Supreme Court. Many different organized the new organized national organizations worked together at different levels to adopt this technology in every working sector of India. In 2021, NITI Aayog released the report ‘Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India’ to scale avoidance, containment, and resolution online.
The dispute resolution procedure in India is so long and time-consuming. Dispute resolution in India involves considerable time and resources due to dispositions and excesses pending in traditional courts and tribunals. This incident adversely affected doing business in India. ICT is the future of dispute resolution, and new ideas emerging in the field are working to make dispute resolution more efficient and accessible to everyone in society. ODR can provide businesses with a curated dispute resolution solution that enables entrepreneurs to effectively enforce contracts through an easily accessible and user-centric process. ODR plays an important role in dispute resolution. For that reason, it can also be said that ODR is the future of dispute resolution in India.
Author(s) Name: Shubham Mahadeo Walunj (Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune)
‘What is ODR’ (Dispute Resolution Online) <https://disputeresolution.online/#:~:text=What%20is%20ODR%3F,mediation%2C%20conciliation%2C%20and%20arbitration> accessed 22 November 2022
 Kartikey Raja, ‘Online Disputes Resoultion (ODR): The Future of Justice in India’ (2020) 3 (4) International Journal of Law Management & Humanities Volume
 Niti Aayog, Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution (October 2021) <https://www.niti.gov.in/sites/default/files/2021-11/odr-report-29-11-2021.pdf > accessed 22 November 2022