Does Online Dispute Resolution Need Governmental Intervention? The Case for Architectures of Control and Trust

22 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2006


Many believe that cyberspace was born out of a world of no regulation. And many believe that the future of dispute resolution lies in the absence of the state. The general view of online dispute resolution ("ODR") follows from these beliefs: it is a new and promising form of dispute resolution, and it takes place in cyberspace; consequently it should be left to self-regulation. It is this view that I want to challenge. I contend that ODR requires governmental intervention to develop fully, to lessen the gap between its potential and its actual use - a gap that is huge. The argument for this assertion follows a simple path: ODR is in need of trust, trust can be provided through architectures of control, and such control should be in the hands of government in order to induce trust. My article moves in two parts, the first descriptive, the second prescriptive. Part I provides that confidence is hardly present in the absence of control. I begin with an examination of the confidence problem ODR faces. I then propose a solution to that problem: control. The lack of control induces a lack of confidence in ODR. Control of ODR needs to be established. This entails setting in place an architecture of control of ODR in order to increase confidence. Only then will it be utilized on a large scale. Part II maintains that this control should be in the hands of the government.

Keywords: ODR, ADR, online dispute resolution, dispute resolution, cyberspace, Internet, cyberspace regulation, e-commerce, ecommerce, trust, laissez-faire, government, computer mediated communications, CMC

JEL Classification: K2, K20, K4, K40

Suggested Citation

Schultz, Thomas, Does Online Dispute Resolution Need Governmental Intervention? The Case for Architectures of Control and Trust. North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 6, p. 71, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Schultz (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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