The value of online exports in six of the top e-commerce markets is predicted to grow fivefold in six years, according to a study by London-based management consultancy OC&C and US search engine Google. One of the key components for the successful functioning of any business involved in e-commerce is having efficient mechanisms to resolve disputes arising from online transactions. Such disputes mainly concern the business to consumer (B2C) segment where court proceedings can be counterproductive. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) corresponds much better to the needs of the parties in such disputes. The most logical way to solve e-commerce disputes is to use ADR thought the internet. Thus, online dispute resolution (ODR) is gradually gaining more attention from all the key players in e-commerce at present.

It is important to distinguish between ODR and dispute resolution facilitated by IT means. The latter is the use of the technologies in the course of traditional procedures. For example, many law firms introduced their own file sharing systems that allow parties to file gigabytes of documents in a fast and secure way. Arbitral institutions like ICC, AAA and WIPO have launched online platforms that allow quick and secure exchange of correspondence and documents between parties and arbitrators.

Two of the most notable developments in the cross-border e-commerce dispute resolution field are the work of the UNCITRAL Working Group III and the recent EU legislation on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). While the former is in the discussion stage, the latter already announced that an EU-wide online platform will be set up by 2016 for disputes that arise from online transactions. Both of these approaches are reviewed below.

Apr-Jun 2014 issue

Association for International Arbitration (AIA)