Disputes resolution is a tricky affair for all stakeholders including courts, government, companies, individuals, international organisations, etc. This is more so where conflict of law is involved as different countries may have different laws for dispute resolution. As a result international commercial disputes faced many difficulties for their resolutions in the early days. To reduce the hardships of such disputes, countries adopted a model code of conduct that was incorporated in their respective domestic laws. The advent of harmonised alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like arbitration and mediation is a result of such international codification.
For instance, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in 1985. The UNCITRAL has also adopted the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules in 1980. The General Assembly of the United Nations has recommended the use of the said Model Law and Rules in cases where a dispute arises in the context of international commercial relations and the parties seek an amicable settlement of that dispute by recourse to conciliation.
India has also incorporated these uniform principles of alternative dispute resolution in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 that was amended in the year 2015. The Arbitration Act provides for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like arbitration, conciliations etc for national and international stakeholders.
Nevertheless, the Arbitration Act has still not considered the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for dispute resolution in the desired manner. For instance, online dispute resolution (ODR) is still missing from the Indian scenario despite the Arbitration Act. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been advocating use of ODR in India since 2004. We have also been managing the exclusive Techno Legal Centre of Excellence for online Dispute Resolution in India (TLCEODRI) since 2012.
The main objective of TLCEODRI is to promote and use ODR in India for various dispute resolution purposes. After 13 years of dedicated services and efforts, we can safely claim that ODR would see active use in the coming years in India. To help national and international ODR stakeholders, TLCEODRI has also drafted an “ODR Clause” that they can use in their agreements, contracts, etc. We have also launched a dedicated blog for ODR training along with an ODR discussion forum where techno legal aspects would be discussed for the first time in ODR’s history. ODR experts and specialists wishing to enroll with TLCEODRI can also see the empanelment procedure in this regard. Above all, TLCEODRI has launched the first ever techno legal ODR portal of India that is covering vast dispute resolution fields. The portal is known as Online Disputes Resolution & Cyber Arbitration Portal of TLCEODRI where ODR is used to resolve dispute of national and international stakeholders.
For those stakeholders who are interested in use of ODR and cyber arbitration in India in 2017, we are providing some insights and trends through this article. These are as follows:
(1) Techno Legal Norms: The year 2017 would see formulation of techno legal norms by Indian government, arbitral institutions and ODR institutions. Laws like Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, etc would see further amendments in the year 2017 to accommodate online dispute resolution (ODR) and cyber arbitration in India. TLCEODRI is already in the process of making public its techno legal rules and regulations for ODR services and cyber arbitration in India. In short, a basic level legal framework would be put in place in the year 2017 for ODR and cyber arbitration.
(2) PPP Based ODR Models: Indian government would encourage public private partnership (PPP) based ODR and cyber arbitration models in the year 2017. This is natural as Indian government is yet to brace ODR and cyber arbitration.
(3) Consolidation Of ODR Segment: Consolidation of ODR and cyber arbitration industry would also take place in the year 2017. There are some cyber arbitration and dispute resolution players working in India for some time but actual working models are still missing. The startups and entrepreneurship trends of India 2017 have already predicted increased use of ODR and e-courts in India in 2017.
(4) Digital Disputes: Indian government’s focus upon digital projects like digital India, e-governance, etc would increase digital disputes in the year 2017. As on the date, neither the regulatory framework nor the online dispute resolution infrastructure is in place to tackle such high number of digital disputes. Indian government is working on these fronts, and till the end of 2017 we may see some positive developments on these fronts.
(5) Consumer Protection In Cyberspace: Consumer protection in cyberspace would be one of the top priorities of Indian government in 2017. The focus would be upon cyber arbitration and online dispute resolution of various consumer disputes. A time bound dispute resolution mechanism would be put in place by Indian government in 2017. Even consumer courts/forums would be accessible through online means in 2017 and aggrieved consumers can file their complaints from any part of India. However, this model would not be a fully fledged one but would consist of first stage of dispute resolution only.
(6) E-Commerce Disputes: The year 2017 would see a big growth in use of ODR for resolution of e-commerce disputes in India. No smart e-commerce player would be interested in keeping public grievances and disputes pending and unresolved. Further, e-commerce companies could also not afford negative reviews that are generated due to unresolved consumer disputes. Cyber arbitration and ODR would be of tremendous help to such e-commerce players, dissatisfied customers, etc.
(7) International Commercial Arbitration: International commercial arbitration can be the biggest winner by using cyber arbitration and ODR in India. This is more so on the fields of cross border technology transactions and cross border e-commerce transactions. TLCEODRI has been working in this direction for the past few years and international e-commerce and technology companies can have a firsthand experience of the same here. Interested national and international stakeholders can contact us in this regard and avail the techno legal cyber arbitration and ODR services of TLCEODRI.
TLCEODRI hopes that national and international stakeholders would find the cyber arbitration trends of India 2017 useful.