One of the great success stories of Online Dispute Resolution offers a model that in these challenging times is likely to become the new norm for dispute resolution.
The Civil Resolution Tribunal, Canada’s only Online Dispute Resolution tribunal, has been fully operational since 2016, is fully accessible, offers translation in 200 languages and completes an average of 5,900 disputes per year, growing every year.
It is seen as the flagship for online dispute resolution systems all over the world. This interview with its Chair, Shannon Salter, in 2015, before it was up and running, gives some insight into its mission and vision. Watch out also for the interview with her colleague Darin Thompson, coming soon.
1. Since this interview, the Tribunal has gone from strength to strength, getting ready to expand its jurisdiction to motor vehicle injury claims next year. The current crisis is likely to require a re-think of how disputes are resolved if face to face hearings are suspended indefinitely. Study how the tribunal works (information on www.civilresolutionbc.ca) and think about what other types of claims and disputes it could be extended to.
2. Shannon Salter sees this project as bigger than just the Civil Resolution Tribunal. She sees it as “rebuilding a corner of the justice system”. What other or similar opportunities for re-building the justice system, particularly to serve the needs of those who find it most difficult to access it, can you see, and what obstacles and barriers might you face in implementing these?
3. In the latter part of the interview, Shannon Salter asks some far reaching questions about the legal profession and institutions. She asks whether doing dispute resolution as we always have – in court – is “serving people’s best interests or (are) we serving an ideology that may not be serving those best interests anymore.?” What ideology may she be talking about? Think about the legal profession in your country and what values and assumptions are at its core.
Shannon Salter repeatedly emphasises the importance of clear, easy to understand, information for people who have a dispute. Go to the Tribunal website at www.civilresolutionbc.ca and see how the website does this. Then, to compare, go to the Irish Courts Service website at www.courts.ie, specifically the section addressed to users. Write an FAQ section in plain, easy to understand English based on the information there. To test how easy to understand your FAQ is, show it to a non lawyer friend or relative and ask them if they understand it. Apply what you have learned in all written, and verbal, communications with clients and non lawyers in your work.
Further Resources on ODR
The CRT’s 2018-2019 Annual Report gives a comprehensive overview of how it has been working and makes for fascinating reading https://civilresolutionbc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/CRT-Annual-Report-2018-2019.pdf
For more detailed insight on the philosophy and research behind the Tribunal, read this article by Shannon Salter from 2017 https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2965745
To see how the project is viewed from outside Canada, read this article from the UK Law Gazette https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/canada-shows-way-to-online-claims-future/5068554.article
Resources for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Law Students
Mediator Academy’s mission is to provide access to the very best educational resources and thought leaders in dispute resolution to everyone on the planet. We’ve come a long way since our original long-form video interviews (over 1000 were produced) to where we are today with adaptive online lessons and modules. In light of the current challenges that law students and faculty face we are re-engineering some of the richest video interviews from our archives and sharing these resources with you to be used as teaching aids until normal service is resumed. We hope you find them useful.
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