Request for Inputs: Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India, released by NITI Aayog
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NITI Aayog has released a draft discussion paper titled ‘Designing the Future of Dispute Resolution: The ODR Policy Plan for India’ (ODR Paper).
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) refers to the use of technology to resolve disputes. It goes beyond the mere integration of technology in the dispute resolution processes (such as virtual scheduling) and includes the use of technology throughout the dispute resolution process, such as video conferencing and digital circulation of files. The ODR paper discusses various benefits of ODR such as, cost and time effectiveness, increased access to justice and improved legal health of the society. It acknowledges the role of the technology sector by, inter alia, providing solutions for ODR platforms thus making the implementation of ODR possible in India. Innovation has been seen with the evolution of legal tech start-ups that are enabling out of court settlement of various disputes. The advancement of information technology by way of artificial intelligence (AI), big data, machine learning (ML) and blockchain has potential to be increasingly embedded in legal processes. For example, by developing e-learning tools on legal guidance, creating digital platforms to connect legal service providers to litigants, document automation, smart contracts and case management automation.
The ODR discussion paper highlights recent trends that have emerged globally across the following themes and makes recommendations for the better implementation and scaling up of ODR in India.
1. Structure and model of ODR
• Multi-tiered dispute resolution models are being widely adopted.
• ODR tools are supplementing existing models of dispute resolutions, to enable synergetic functioning of ODR platforms with existing offline systems.
• Consumer disputes has come across as one of the most suitable categories of disputes where ODR can be adopted.
• ODR has as much potential for growth and expansion through technological innovations in this field and is not merely limited to an electronic means of resolving disputes.
2. Role of private sector in ODR
• Private enterprises, especially those working in internet-based sectors, are increasingly resorting to ODR to save on time and money in resolving disputes.
• Many Government-run and court-annexed ODR platforms have partnered with private ODR service providers and adopted technology solutions.
3. Good practices in ODR
• Technological solutions need to be geared towards cyber security, as confidentiality of proceedings is a primary concern.
1. Need for increased access to digital infrastructure (for eg. National Broadband Mission) including increased digital literacy across both genders, geographies and age groups.
2. Increase capacity of professionals and service providers to scale up ODR in India through systematic engagement of government, judiciary and businesses.
3. The Government should target initiatives to encourage innovation and new entrants, for example by, setting up legal tech hubs, encourage development of customizable solutions for various classes of disputes etc.
4. Increasing the capacity of court-annexed ODR centres, for example, by equipping them with primary ICT facilities, relaxing criteria for empanelment of mediators and recognition of institutions for court-annexed mediation etc.
5. Scale-up the existing ODR mechanisms, such as, using ODR to resolve insolvency and bankruptcy disputes, include online mediation in consumer dispute redressal process etc.
6. Build trust in ODR processes through coordinated efforts from all stakeholders, i.e., dispute resolution professionals, lawyers, ODR/ADR institutions, ODR platforms, Government and the Judiciary.
7. Incentivise start-ups to build ODR platforms or participate in the ecosystem in any way, by way of, for example, tax incentives.
8. Adopt a soft-touch regulatory approach so as to not stifle innovation and encourage the development of ODR in India, by mandating pre-litigation online mediation for certain classes of cases and introducing a set of voluntary principles governing technology and design of ODR platforms (such as use of free and open source software) and ethical obligations (such as impartiality and confidentiality) for stakeholders to follow.
9. Implement ODR in a three phased manner: first, ODR for covid-19 related disputes, second, ODR as a mainstream dispute resolution mechanism, and third, implementing ODR as a primary mode of dispute resolution.
We would like to have your feedback on the draft discussion paper. The deadline for providing feedback to NITI Aayog is 11 November 2020.
Request to share your inputs or reach out for any queries at email@example.com latest by 9 November 2020.
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