The tech industry has taken over in recent years, so it’s no surprise that it’s made it’s way into dispute resolution. Mediation and arbitration are usually a fairly easy process to schedule and attend when both parties are local, or at least relatively close to each other. What happens when the parties are large distances apart, even across the country? For these parties, online dispute resolution may be an option, if an agreement doesn’t stand in the way.
Online mediation usually starts out with an email. An email is generally sent to all parties involved with the mediation’s basic information. Meetings then occur in chat rooms over the internet. The meetings can either be held with al parties, selected parties or only one party, similar to how mediations are conducted in person. Different chat rooms can be set up for different meetings and file sharing. The meetings can also occur through emails.
Mediation online has grown in popularity, most likely because it’s easier to schedule than in person mediation. You don’t have to work around as many schedules when everyone doesn’t need to be at the same place at the same time. Responses can also be thought about more before being communicated. When you’re in person, you’re more likely to say things in the heat of the moment. Time and money can also be saved with online mediation, especially if you would otherwise have to travel a long distance, pay for a hotel room, take a flight, etc.
The biggest negative to online mediation is that it dilutes the key feature of mediation that is central to its effectiveness, which is the human relational aspect. Online mediation may in fact not be as effective when it comes to communication of the various needs, interests, motivations and emotions involved. After all, face to face dialogue is a key component of mediation. The people involved might also be more inclined to make inflammatory statements in an email or chat room than they would otherwise make in person. Emails and chat messages can also come across in a different light than intended due to lack of tone inflection and visual clues.
Arbitration is a different animal than mediation. It’s in essence designed to be a less formal court proceeding, although it doesn’t always work out that way. Online arbitrations usually require that the parties upload their documents and respond to the questions asked by the arbitrator, with the process then followed by a decision from the arbitrator. They can also involve video conferencing. Online arbitration, like mediation, is considered a less expensive and time-consuming version of arbitration, for many of the same reasons (i.e. travel, scheduling, etc.). However, like with mediation, the face to face element is no longer there, so the arbitration becomes all about evidence.
Online arbitration is most popular for domain name disputes and unpopular in business to consumer disputes, which should be unsurprising given the online nature of, and lack of face to face contact involved in, an online arbitration. Arbitration in general is also thought to be unfair to consumers. Internet domain name disputes are generally covered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, and the World Intellectual Property Organization is one of its dispute resolution service providers. Their decisions are generally non-binding on the parties, but binding on the domain name service provider, which is what makes it effective.
Realistically, online dispute resolution will not be the best option for many businesses. Online mediation is best for simple disputes when parties with significant distance between them where there is little emotion behind the matter. Online arbitration is best for disputes that are best resolved with documented evidence and little discussion. At the end of the day, if you have a written agreement, it should state which dispute resolution procedure you need to utilize and how to do so. At Dodson Legal Group, we ensure the correct dispute resolution procedure for a business is in their contracts. Reach out today by calling 844-4DODSON for a consultation.