Building the Virtual Courthouse: Ethical Considerations for Design, Implementation, and Regulation in the World of ODR
52 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2014 Last revised: 26 Aug 2014
Date Written: January 29, 2014
For some time now, there has been a well-documented movement toward alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and away from traditional litigation through courts in the United States and around the world. The benefits of the ADR movement are manifold, ranging from greater control over the process of dispute resolution to alleviating overburdened courts. But the costs of ADR are also becoming increasingly apparent, including a relative lack of due process protections. A more recent phenomenon is the marriage of technology to ADR, creating the field of online dispute resolution (ODR). Increasingly, both public- and private-sector actors are moving towards ODR to resolve low-value disputes. Some companies, such as Modria, are seeking to increase efficiency still further through automating the dispute resolution process through the use of algorithms, effectively removing humans from the justice delivery system. The limited literature analyzing the ODR movement has so far neglected the ethics of these emerging systems. Where should policymakers, business leaders, and societies draw the line between disputes that may be resolved online, potentially using an automated system, and those requiring in-person hearings? This Article seeks to begin the conversation about these questions by reviewing the current technological state of ODR and its use by companies including eBay, Modria, and Cybersettle, among others, before moving on to consider ethical ODR issues including balancing such values as transparency, efficiency, and conflict dynamics. Finally, suggestions for regulating this burgeoning industry are made drawing from the interdisciplinary literature on polycentric governance.
Keywords: online dispute resolution, alternative dispute resolution, polycentric governance
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