One example of how interest in ODR (Online Dispute Resolution) is beginning to mature is the growing interest in the application of ODR to specific categories of claims. For example, last month, I was asked to give a talk at a conference organised by Action Against Medical Accidents (AVMA - which originally stood for Action for Victims of Medical Accidents but no doubt was changed to remove the negative victim culture reference) on the role of ODR within clinical negligence claims. Given I was in Australia for the whole of January, I was asked to present it online. However, with the conference slot requiring me to be up and presenting at 3am local time, I withdrew from live presentation and, instead AVMA will be recording my presentation as a webinar. More news on when and how that will be available will be posted here but for any AVMA members you will learn direct. The request did allow me to focus on specific benefits in Clinical Negligence cases. This work is not unknown to me given I was one of the first solicitors to develop a specialism in clinical negligence casework (then termed medical negligence) back in the 80s.
Mediating online has more to offer in Clinical Negligence disputes than has ‘in person’ mediation given:-
* There are usually multiple participants within the Respondent frame such as medical/pharmaceutical/administrative/nursing. It is much more efficient to engage them as and when needed through an online platform.
* There is often a significant knowledge divide to be bridged between parties. A well constructed platform with a 'Do I have a good case?' facility that profiles the claim through a logic tree of questions can then inform the Claimant and help better bridge the divide without the cost of human intervention
* Medical knowledge, opinions and standards change and are open to interpretation. The platform can develop a controlled knowledge base accessible by mediators and all other participants.
* Time is often critical (e.g. decisions on the continuation of the doctor/patient relationship may depend on the conclusion of the mediation). An online mediation platform that is not dependent on co-ordinating the diaries of many busy people can enable the mediation to commence almost immediately and proceed at a pace over the ensuing days
There have been several, so far unsuccessful, attempts to encourage mediation for clinical negligence cases. Maybe including online mediation facilities, will encourage more claimants, and their representatives, to participate.