Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Online Dispute Resolution Update

As we head into 2017, I wonder about technology influencing the future of mediation as the prevalence of artificial intelligence in the law grows in areas like Electronic Discovery. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has been the subject of much debate and is more popular overseas than in America, though many online merchants have been using systems such as Modria for years on low dollar disputes to resolve customer issues. My colleagues and I have even debated the efficacy of such an impersonal form of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Executive Council of The Florida Bar's ADR Section. Now, University of Maryland Law Professor Robert Condlin has authored an article entitled,“Online Dispute Resolution: Stinky, Repugnant, or Drab." In it, he provides an overview of currently existing processes and identifies potential consequences related to their use, suggesting refinements. For instance, most ODR programs require parties to describe their claims in fixed, predefined categories that may not capture all claims dimensions or limit the opportunity to argue substantive merits underlying their worth. He raises limits to the ability to resolve differences on the basis of private software algorithms that raise fairness issues not present in dispute resolution systems run principally by humans. Professor Condlin opines there are certain legal, political, and moral concerns yet to be addressed that ODR proponents must answer if online systems are to satisfy the demands of state-sanctioned, public dispute resolution. See more of the abstract here cited as U. of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-40-- and materials from ADRHub's CyberWeek 2016 on the latest in predictive analytics for negotiation--