NEW DELHI: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has the potential to decentralize, diversify, democratize, and disentangle the justice delivery mechanism, Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud said today. He was addressing the release event of a handbook on ODR, developed by Agami and Omidyar India, in association with NITI Aayog and with the support of ICICI Bank, Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Trilegal, Dalberg, Dvara and NIPFP.
Covid-19 has transformed our lives in unimaginable ways, which inevitably also included the way courts operated—with physical hearings giving way to virtual ones. “The transition was difficult for everyone, including advocates, litigants and even court staff. However, while this process was initially slow, the concept of virtual hearings eventually came to find its place in the judicial ecosystem,” Justice Chandrachud said.
He mentioned that the ODR handbook notes that traditional litigation in India can be time consuming, expensive, and onerous. Although the judiciary is working towards solving these issues, ODR can provide a helping hand in this situation by limiting the kinds of disputes that often come to courts in the first place.
Justice Chandrachud said he firmly believes in the role ODR can play in today’s digitally transformed world. “This is not just because of the process being conducted virtually, but also because of its firm willingness to adopt all forms of digital solutions available. In my opinion, one of the most important learnings from the past one year of virtual hearings, has been that the process can often be far more efficient because of very simple changes—the use of digital files by all parties, the ability to make digital notes, and having all documents in one place.
Further, conducting all disputes online also helps generate a lot more data, which can provide the necessary groundwork for the process of ODR to improve in the future. In fact, this data can also be meaningfully used to improve the virtual experience of courts. Finally, the effective use of affordable ODR services can bring about a major change in the perception of parties involved in the dispute—by making the process more accessible, affordable, and participative. It will make all parties consider it more amicable and solution oriented. This will ultimately lead to more efficient dispute resolution,” he added.