The Civil Justice Council (CJC) has set up an advisory group to explore the role that online dispute resolution (ODR) can play in resolving civil disputes.

ODR involves the resolution of disputes through techniques such as e-negotiation and e-mediation. 

The group is chaired by legal futurologist Professor Richard Susskind (pictured). It will review the potential and limitations of the use of ODR for resolving civil disputes of a value less than £25,000 in England and Wales.

It will undertake an initial cost/benefit analysis of ODR as an alternative and accessible means of resolving disputes, identifying any limitations and drawbacks of the processes and consider the overlap between ODR and virtual courts.

It will also start the policy process of considering options for ODR provision and regulation.

 A report will be prepared for the CJC with recommendations for next steps or further research required.

Susskind said that ODR is already widely used. ‘Perhaps its best-known application is on eBay where, each year, over 60 million disagreements amongst traders are resolved using online techniques and not the courts. The CJC advisory group will be looking at the wider potential for ODR.’

The chairman of the CJC, master of the rolls Lord Dyson said: ‘The CJC is always interested in exploring ways for improving the civil justice system and making it more accessible. ODR certainly offers opportunities for doing this, and we await the report of Richard Susskind’s group with great interest.’

Aside from Susskind, the membership of the working group is:
Dr Pablo Cortés, University of Leicester, 
Adrian Dally, Financial Ombudsman Service, 
Paul Harris, HM Courts and Tribunals Service
, Dr Julia Hornle, Queen Mary University of London
, Matthew Lavy, barrister, 
Nick Mawhinney, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, 
David Parkin, Ministry of Justice, 
Dr Sue Prince, University of Exeter
, Graham Ross, lawyer and mediator, 
Beth Silver, Barclays Bank (and CJC member)
, Roger Smith, consultant
, Tim Wallis, independent mediator
 and Peter Farr (secretary to the Civil Justice Council).