Not all legal disagreements end in court. In fact, individuals and organizations alike are typically more likely to settle outside of the courtroom with alternative dispute resolution. Some of the most popular methods include arbitration and mediation, both of which have recently moved online to offer a completely digital option. Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is growing in popularity each year because it is convenient, more affordable, and generally takes a fraction of the time compared to traditional mediation or in-person trials.

What exactly is alternative dispute resolution, and, more specifically, what is ODR? Let’s take a look at mediation, arbitration, and the digital solutions that are increasing their accessibility.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution method in which a third party hears all facts of the case before coming to a conclusion. The decision made by the arbitrator is final and the involved parties must adhere to it. Essentially, two arguing individuals present their cases to a third party (the arbitrator). Based on what is presented, the arbitrator decides the most reasonable actions to take to settle the dispute. Because both arguing parties agreed to use arbitration, they simultaneously agree to adhere to the ruling of the arbitrator. Many people like arbitration because it takes the decision-making responsibility off their own shoulders and places it on an unbiased third party who is making calls based solely on the evidence [resented to them. Emotions, relationships, and other subjective obstacles rarely come into play, ensuring the outcome is fair and equitable.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is another form of alternative dispute resolution that involves a third party who hears all evidence as it is presented. Unlike arbitration, the mediator does not make a final decision. Rather, they facilitate discussions to reach a compromise. Mediators cannot make decisions, nor can they provide legal advice. Mediation is meant to include a neutral third party who can discuss the case and help parties navigate the settlement in a civil and appropriate manner. Mediators are typically very good at calming emotionally-charged disputes including divorce, custody battles, insurance claims, etc. They do not make judgments, they simply provide input and put things into perspective to aid in reaching an agreement.

Why Online Dispute Resolution?

Over the years, it has become very clear that alternative dispute resolution has its place within the Justice System. Not only does it help keep courtrooms available, but it also can help individuals get closure faster. Recently, alternative dispute resolution has made its way online to offer a virtual option to parties in settlement discussions. Online Dispute Resolution has rapidly grown in popularity, especially during the court shutdowns early in the pandemic days. With high success rates and countless satisfied parties, ODR seems to be here to stay for a multitude of reasons.

  • Online Dispute Resolution is more affordable for the involved parties and takes less time. It became very quickly apparent that ODR is a more efficient process than traditional mediation can be. There are no lawyer or court fees associated with the program, making it more affordable to anyone. In addition, because the entire process is done online, the timeline is typically far shorter than in-person mediation. There’s no need to book a room, no travel time is needed, and people can log on from anywhere. People love convenience, and alternative dispute resolution using technology is the best option.
  • It is particularly useful in extremely emotional cases. As we mentioned, ODR takes place over the internet. In other words, there is no in-person meeting. This has proven to be extremely valuable in cases involving extreme emotion. For example, if a divorce is very messy, the two parties do not have to sit in the same room while tensions rise. Rather, each party can sign in from wherever they are most comfortable. Other use cases include child custody discussions, issues of domestic violence, heated fights over inheritance, etc. By keeping the opposing parties away from one another, the mediation can occur without blowups or inappropriate remarks. There’s less distress for everyone, making the process much smoother and less jarring.
  • More people have access to justice. Ultimately, Online Dispute Resolution has proven to be a tool for increasing access to justice. ODR places everyone on an even playing field. There’s no “home team advantage” in a courthouse, no one can get a leg up with wealth because lawyers are not needed, no one has to find transportation to the court, and meetings can be scheduled outside of work hours to avoid lost wages. ODR is a solution for everyone, regardless of their job, education level, or social status.

Resolve Disputes Online

Resolve Disputes Online (RDO) is a premiere ODR platform that goes above and beyond to offer even more benefits to users. At its core, RDO is an alternative dispute resolution solution. As with other online tools, users can partake in 100% digital mediation. However, RDO doesn’t stop there. The platform also has a settlement builder that aids in negotiations. Amounts can be sent back and forth until a compromise is reached that both parties can agree with. By keeping this exchange in-platform, it stays secure and avoids emails or other communication software. Once a decision is reached, you can even pay fees on the Resolve Disputes Online platform. Again, no additional software is needed, and everything is extremely secure.

You can take technology one step further with RDO by utilizing the ai Mediation tool. Rather than sharing evidence and information with a third-party person, you will share them with the ai Mediator. Advanced ai technology will determine a fair amount and suggest it to the parties. Negotiation can begin from here until a compromise is reached. Some people feel uncomfortable sharing personal information with a stranger, so ai Mediation can alleviate that discomfort for some. Only the system sees what you submit, not an outside person.

When Should You Use Alternative Dispute Resolution?

There are no real rules as to when mediation or arbitration can be used with the exception of criminal cases. That being said, there are plenty of ways to use digital platforms to make settlement easier. Some of the most common cases include:

  • Landlord/Tenant
  • Insurance Claims
  • Employer/Employee
  • Divorce
  • Child Custody
  • Inheritance
  • Family Disputes
  • Business Partnerships

Mediation or arbitration works best for cases involving the allocation of resources. There is no prison time in question, it’s simply a matter of “who gets what and how much?” Civil cases also flock to ODR as a way to reduce court costs and get things settled as efficiently as possible.

So, now that you know more about alternative dispute resolution techniques, does it seem like the right fit for you or your organization? If you’re interested in learning more about Online Dispute Resolution, particularly the Resolve Disputes Online platform, please visit  Feel free to reach out to our team to set up a demo, or to ask more specific questions about how ODR can help you.

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