ONLINE COURT: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Small Claims

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Advances in web technology are slowly starting to impact the resolution of disputes that had previously been handled in person. Online Dispute Resolution can broadly be defined as the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques over the internet. Typical ODR cases involve small dollar amounts, distant parties, and often relatively obscure issues. ODR will be limited to such small dollar “online disputes” until the government drives the process by moving it’s court activities online. If technology is the “4th party” in such disputes, the court can act as a “5th party” and aid in bringing ODR to the mainstream of conflict resolution by providing much needed legitimacy. Small claims courts, with smaller dollar amounts and less complex issues, are ideally situated to transition their operations online. This paper discusses the implications of technology, online courts, and ODR in general on lawyers, ADR practitioners, and legal educators.

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