UK Moves towards Online Dispute Resolution
Graham Ross has been appointed a member of a new 12 strong ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) Advisory Group set up by the Civil Justice Council (a public body established under the Civil Procedure Act 1997 with responsibility for overseeing and co-ordinating the modernisation of the civil justice system of England and Wales) “to analyse the costs and benefits of ODR as an alternative means of resolving disputes.”
The Advisory Group met for the first time on the 23rd April in the Royal Courts of Justice under the chairmanship of Professor Richard Susskind, IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice. The Group will submit a Report in 9 month's time.
Richard Susskind, in his article in the Times on the 24th April referring to this new move on ODR, poses the question:-“When people and organisations turn to the law to settle disputes, why do they have to do it in a physical courtroom?”
The chairman of the CJC, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson is quoted in an article on the Advisory Group in the Law Society's Gazette 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.’
The members of the ODR Advisory Group are:- 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).
On a second front, the Welsh Government has instructed consultants to investigate the setting up an ADR Hub for Wales. The Consultants, Skills For Justice, have identified the importance of the hub having an online element and, as a result, have invited Graham Ross to present an ODR workshop at a conference to deliver its finding to the Welsh Government and interested parties. This will take place in Cardiff on the 29th April. To underpin the importance of ODR in the eyes of the organisers, Graham’s workshop has been given one third of the time allocated for the whole event. Modria’s Dan Rainey will also contribute by webcam.Finally, the Civil Mediation Council (the authoritative body that embraces all of the UK mediation sector) has asked Graham to present a 45 minute workshop on ODR at next month’s annual Conference. This is the first time ODR has featured at a CMC event.All in all it seems that key players in the UK, from Government to courts to the mediation sector leaders, are beginning to see the significance of ODR.