Innovating Justice through (Software Stimulated) E-Resolutions

Adv. Rajesh, Chief Coordinator, ODR, SoftSettle Support

Facilitated negotiation involves the provision secure websites such as virtual collaborative workspaces or e-rooms the parties to exchange messages, share documents and engage in synchronous or asynchronous negotiations. This is a basic ODR service offered by a number of providers such as the Mediation Room. Here facilitation is offered by the technology itself and the process rules established e-room provider, rather than a human mediator.

However human mediators can also use this type of software to conduct online mediation processes. Online applications specifically set up for mediators to use are referred to as integrated mediation platforms and are offered by some leading service (ODR) providers.

Another example can be found in automated negotiation such as blind bidding procedures that offer positional negotiation and a formula for calculating settlements without human third-party intervention; these are available in the United States for insurance claims arising from car accidents and personal injury claims.

Yet another ODR technology takes the form of negotiation support systems, which allow the manipulation of negotiation variables for participants so they can consider a range of options and alternatives, and can provide an overview of negotiation stages (in mediation) and expert advice on strategies and outcomes. Mediators are able to use this type of technology to assist parties in their negotiations.

Whereas mediators are referred to as the ‘third party’, in the world of online mediation, technology is referred to as the ‘fourth party’. The concept of the fourth party suggests that technology changes the communication and power dynamics of the mediation process, opening up new and imaginative ways for mediators to intervene, and parties and lawyers to engage, in the process. It also introduces new risks for users relating to issues around security of the online platform, authenticity of online participants and what to do with a written record of a text-based ODR process.

The future of online mediation will depend largely on the ability of mediators and potential users to access and accept the fourth party and specific ODR platforms. While there is still some skepticism about the ability of technology to facilitate solutions, build relationships and maintain trust in the process, it seems that an increasing number of mediators and users of mediation are open to the idea of ODR.

The above are brought to my notice and I have finalised to incorporate such software to resolve the disputes coming under e-commerce, insurance, issues related to defaulting with financial institutions like Bank, other NBFCs and all types of low valued disputes along with other software resolving comparatively larger issues like Intellectual Property, Succession, Inheritance, family disputes etc. in the Resolution Centre of the portal and in the forthcoming mobile application under the banner of Soft Settle.



An Effortless Resolution Procedure

SoftSettle Support

Twenty years ago, professional dispute resolvers were quite skeptical about using technology. The sense was that technology only enabled sterile, antiseptic communication, stripped of real honesty and emotion. Many people argued that online apologies, in particular, were not as effective as face-to-face apologies because of the lack of nonverbal communication. The oft-expressed concern was that overly simplistic software solutions would trivialize disputes and suggest that disputants could just click their way out of any issues they encountered. As such, dispute-resolution professionals were very slow to adopt technology into their practices, and many insisted that face-to-face communication was the only real way to conduct conflict-resolution procedures

Over the past ten years, however, technology has “humanized.” The tools used to interact with each other in the realm of computer-mediated communication have become far more intuitive and easy to use, while at the same time becoming more powerful. Devices like smart phones and tablets have made interaction as simple as pointing one’s finger, which for many seems more natural and human than typing on a keyboard. Computers now play pleasing sounds and show pictures and video in stunning clarity and color. Technology has gotten much better at connecting with people and helping to connect people with people.

In response, people have started connecting more with technology to facilitate communication and relationships in contexts from family to the workplace.Though it does not replace the need for in-person communication and nurturing, technology is adapting to evolving human needs and interests, making communication available and accessible where it may not have been in the past.

Members of the younger generation, in particular, have become reliant on technology in almost every area of their lives. Not only do they use technology throughout their workdays, they’ve become comfortable using it in many of their most intimate personal relationships.

A vibrant portal like  accommodates the core technological ideas so as to provide mechanism to counter the dispute or address the issues quickly and effectively. Hence Soft Settle has found out a room for availability of an E-court and its activation by  inviting the disputants to the stream of settlement  using the Soft Settle Mobile App. Now many people have started using computer mediated communication and hence addressing any dispute would not be seem strange. So there is no room for any skepticism any more.


Technology in Dispute Resolution

By Adv.Rajesh, Chief Co-ordinator, ODR, SoftSettle Support Pvt. Ltd.

So far as most of the states of India and the countries like UAE, Qatar in Western Asia are booming MNCs, Corporations and IT companies it has become a challenging affair for business people to look forward to find a reasonable dispute resolution mechanism to settle the business disputes within the country and across their borders. As such when I was asked by some professionals from India to build an online segment in a portal which could cater to the needs of the business people in respect of settling their disputes, I had no second thoughts of integrating an ODR Club and ODR Resolution Center in the form e-courts in the portal under the domain of, making the justice possible by means of e-negotiation using self automated and stimulated software. In this context I would like to share some of the information I gathered, with you.

ODR promotes a virtual scenario to facilitate the mediator or any presiding officer interacting with the disputing parties. By formulating a technology stimulated ambience, ODR has cleared a way for bringing justice most transparently and thus winning the trust of the people.

The approach to justice will become easier and quick with the aid of technology supported ODR. A key advantage of resolving disputes through the use of cyber-mediation is that it avoids the issue of whether a particular court has jurisdiction over the dispute. Since disputants can bind themselves to resolution through an agreement, jurisdictional issues can be avoided altogether.

The claim of saving court litigation expenses used to be the primary advantage of the traditional dispute resolution. The business segments all around the world is experiencing a tough time as the result of the recession prevailing and dominating in all countries. It has become indispensable for even ordinary individuals to stabilize their financial position at this juncture. Hence to a great extent Online Dispute Resolution has become a blessing to the society so far as this method can be adopted to make the resolution process most cost effective. The online resolution mechanisms eliminate the need for physical travel which used to be long and tedious one to reach particular forum to participate in the alternative dispute resolution process. This level of convenience obviously saves both money and time.

This method invokes special attention of the business people so far as the features like convenience, transparency, competitiveness, neutrality to an extent strange to the traditional alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process. In addition ODR benefits the business community across borders and ODR is a borderless “service business” opportunity.

The parties to the dispute may be fairly relieved so far as they need not confront with each other directly. The virtual ambience facilitates the parties to enjoy a non-confrontational state of affairs so as to reach a settlement.

The willingness to integrate technology inspite of reservations about confidentiality is fueled by the belief that whatever is lost in terms of privacy is less valuable than what can be gained in terms of efficiency, transparency and convenience. So question remains answered without any second thoughts that people can forgo privacy for transparency.

Automated ODR – Never a nightmare for Lawyers

Adam Sharon, Family Mediation Center, Boston

I happened to meet my friend Jammie Pennings comparatively junior, doing her second year JD in Hamline University School of Law. Whenever she meet me she seems little bit excited and a lot to talk about her legal studies and how she is going to pursue with her profession in the future. I too encourage her and I always appreciated her smartness. She happened to be selected to represent ODR Conference from Hamline last year in California. But after back from the conference, she found to be tranquil and remain less enthusiastic during our meeting. May be due to some family problems, I tried to convince myself. But from her Professor, I learnt that she was too anxious about the advent of potential use of technology in the area of providing legal services replacing lawyers altogether for certain basic legal activities and can go to a level of meeting most complicated civil conflicts reaching a settlement. As such she was under the impression that many functions traditionally performed by lawyers will soon be routinely undertaken by software systems, whether such situation likely to present challenges for the legal community – I mean lawyers as a whole.

But as a legal professional I feel her fear is quite unwanted and unwarranted. The situation confronting her is presenting both challenges and opportunities for the legal community. The rationale in support of automating legal activities is simple. The automated systems can help to make the legal functions more readily accessible to the public at lower cost. Automation can also help to make legal activities more transparent to participants and faster to process.

At present, software-based systems are focusing their efforts on the resolution of some of the more common legal disputes. I am associated with Settlement Support, a dispute resolution based in India operating from Bangalore and Kochi. They have promoted a project “Gateway to Equity & Justice” where they are having two segments functioning under a portals and . The later one is a prospective one and supposed to accommodate Automated Dispute Resolution software. They are bent on resolving civil disputes such as settlement of monetary disputes including debt resolution apart from insurance claim settlements, resolution of ecommerce disputes, consumer dispute resolution, settlement of the issues arising out of the M & A in the corporate sector etc. along with the social issues like patching up of conjugal life on the eve of divorce, divorce settlements and post divorce settlements are also being considered to facilitate whole proceedings.

Automated systems are not nearly as effective, however, for legal functions that are less standardized. Activities that require the exercise of judgment applied to the specific circumstances of each situation are less suitable for automated systems. These legal functions continue to be the domain of human legal practitioners.

Software-based systems designed to facilitate public access to legal functions are important and very valuable. We will likely see in the near future a rapidly growing number of legal activities and disputes handled by automated systems. This will benefit clients, who will have faster and less expensive access to legal support, and it will also benefit lawyers, who will be able to focus on the judgment-based and more nuanced services that clients can not obtain from automated platforms. Software-based systems provide critically important supplements to traditional legal services, but there will always be legal functions that can only be effectively performed by humans.