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How ODR can help courts

July 29, 2020

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) was originally developed in the private sector and is spreading to courts.  It was developed as a mechanism for quick resolution of conflicts to the satisfaction of both parties. ODR is best for cases involving transactional disputes and enables litigants to communicate online and reach a resolution that can be authorized by the courts.

According to The Pew Charitable Trust's Online Dispute Resolution Offers a New Way to Access Local Courts the courts can build an ODR system that includes:

  • Asynchronous communication. Individuals can access ODR at any time during or outside of court hours, leave messages for other parties, and receive responses.
  • Legal information. The system should provide legal information—without giving advice—about the procedural requirements and options available at each stage in the process to all parties to a dispute.
  • Triage. ODR systems present users with different options and the information necessary to make informed decisions. For example, ODR can be configured whether and when to request a negotiation mediator or to exit ODR and return to the traditional court process which affects litigant and court resources required for a resolution.
  • Electronic document management. ODR enables easy material sharing with other parties and connects to platforms so participants can electronically file documents with the courts.
  • Mediators. Courts can make trained mediators available to litigants via ODR systems to help resolve disputes.
  • Negotiation spaces. ODR systems allow litigants to talk through the dispute with or without a mediator in a secure chat space.
  • Document creation. The system can convert agreed-upon terms into court documents.
  • Payment methods. ODR tools allow individuals to submit agreed-upon payments through the ODR platform.

The past ODR International Forum in 2019 was sponsored by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and by the National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.  It had the opportunity to bring together many experts in the matter and to share experiences on what has worked well for them. The attendees of this forum agreed that “ODR is here to stay”.

You may find other resources in our ODR resources page.

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For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.