The Digital Justice Gap in Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

The Digital Justice Gap in Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

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Introduction

Globalization is a major stimulus for the economic and social integration process of different countries around the world. It is a great tool for breaking down economic barriers and imagining the world as a commercial market. With modern technology in commercial dispute resolution, the focus shifts from litigation to arbitration. We, humans, use technology in all areas. Whether it’s agriculture, manufacturing, or services. There is no reason why our legal system, especially the consensus-based dispute resolution mechanism, does not use technology for the potential benefits to the parties to the dispute. Information Technology  or digitization has played a pivotal role in supporting the quality of practices through more effective monitoring, evaluation, training, information management, research, and evaluation.

Digitization of mediation, negotiation, or arbitration process undoubtedly mitigates or eliminates three major challenges faced by the parties to the conflict. Following are the prime benefits:

1. Eradication of Geographical Barriers: Parties can be located anywhere in the world. 

2. Endless deadline to reach results: The frequency and duration of each procedure is in the hands of the parties and so it’s pace can work as per their will. 

3. Cost Factor: The cost is significantly reduced due to the lack of  physical infrastructure and the short time of justice delivery.

The way in which the digital mechanism of ADR has worked is through Online Dispute Resolution. ODR is described as a “logical and natural step” in resolving disputes that occur on the Internet without the physical presence of the parties involved. This article introduces the Digital dispute resolution, with a particular focus on policy-making and regulatory issues that forms a gap in its implementation. The current legal framework for online dispute resolution has some major potential flaws.

If arbitration, mediation, and conciliation take place online, the parties must discuss legal choices via email, enter into a digitally signed online agreement, and determine the geographic location of the server on which the proceedings will take place. Since digital dispute resolution takes place virtually, the lack of reliability is reduced due to the absence of face-to-face communication between the parties. It also puts the system at some disadvantage because it can be exposed to information loss due to hacking attacks, lack of security, viruses, and other technical issues.

Digital Gap

Privacy is an integral part of India’s judicial system, but the introduction of technology-based dispute resolution tools threatens the same, and the major question is whether the absolute interdependence of technology has prevented the targeted individual from accessing justice.

  • While talking about the security issues:  

Data protection has always been regarded as an integral part of India’s judicial system, as it is essential not only to ensure that justice is committed to the parties to the dispute but also to protect the rights of those involved. There is a risk that an unauthorized person could intercept communications sent over the Internet, or a hacker could break into a computer connected to the Internet. For example, one such technique for gaining unauthorized access is spoofing. In this case, an unauthorized person impersonates an existing authorized user to access sensitive information. You can use the sniffer package to intercept and manipulate specific data.

Successful online dispute resolution depends on both sides having access to technology. As such, most societies still lack the basics needed to set up an online dispute resolution.

  • Regulatory issues

With the advent and growth of online arbitration practices, there is growing interest in whether arbitration conducted using electronic means is valid within the current legal framework. As a new dispute resolution mechanism, online arbitration faced certain difficulties in applying the traditional principles of international commercial arbitration. As in the present times, many online dispute resolution topics appear to be “not well regulated.” “Inadequate regulation” results not only from the lack of comprehensive digital dispute resolution law but also from the weaknesses of other regulatory modalities. Also, there is no doubt about the fact that the law is not always the best regulatory tool.

Both parties and neutrals need to implement a mechanism that can irrefutably authenticate themselves. In addition, a secure and encrypted case management platform does a lot to ensure the trust of the parties involved in digital mechanisms.

Challenges that need focus to bridge the gap

 1. The establishment of a separate legal framework is the first step to be considered globally.

 2. It is a measure to be taken for digital security and is to be set by each country for domestic purposes and should not entirely be dependent on IT principles.

3. There is a need to start another all-inclusive online process.

4. Raise public awareness of digital mechanisms as an effective tool for resolving disputes.

5. For proper and effective mechanism, adequate and updated infrastructure should be started with background support from traditional arbitration principles.

 6. The need for a specialized institution that can provide training, education, research, and guidelines for the success of digital mechanisms in India.

Conclusion

There is no doubt about the benefits that digital or online dispute resolution has brought to the traditional legal system. This includes the advantages of quick and hassle-free justice, but at the same time, the disadvantages of using the technical aspects of dispute resolution cannot be ignored. The main reason behind this idea is the constant fear of  disclosure and the lack of resources to use it. All aspects of the process take place digitally, so documents,

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