No this is not a photo of an updated Tardis nor a new form of street toilet cubicle. This is the contraption I had to enter into in order to record an interview with Joshua Rozenberg for BBC Radio4's "Law In Action" series. I couldnt find the time to travel to London to be in the studio so I went to what some media people complain of as the broadcasting equivalent of Siberia - Salford Media City.
I, and mediator Penelope Overton, discussed a case of a lady who had work done to an unsatisfactory standard, sued and obtained judgment in full, but was unable to obtain the monies ordered. More like Law Inaction. We were both asked how mediation and , in my case, Online Dispute Resolution , may have brought about a different conclusion. Ouch - hardly a soft ball thrown by Joshua!
No easy solution but all forms of ADR do help the parties to apply a different perspective. Within a mediaton, one might these days include a term in which the customer would not post a negative consumer review, eg on TrustPIlot.com, Reviewcentre.com or the less neutral sounding RipOffReport.com with the knowledge that, if payment is not made, such a review could be posted. The threat of a review simply stating that the court had determined the case in the customers favour and yet no payment has been made by the contractor willl likely lose the contractor much in the way of prospective business as to encourage payment. Assuming he is not insolvent and facing bankruptcy, it certainly amounts to a significantly less favourable outcome to the contractor than just paying up.
As to ODR, many native systems in certain web based markets do contain controls in one way or another of the monies, eg Amazon can return funds and PeoplePerHour.com and similar contractor dating sites use escrow to ensure the monies are not paid out until both parties declare satisfaction , or some forms of adjudiction takes place.
The item will be broadcast on Tuesday the 28th at 4pm and Thursday the 30th at 8pm but also available as a BBC podcast.