What benefits does online dispute resolution offer a customer/client/individual? 

Online dispute resolution (“ODR”) can occur either in whole or in part online and includes two forms of disputes: those occurring in cyberspace and those arising offline.  While Internet usage continues to expand, creating effective methods to settle Internet conflicts has become increasingly important because conventional processes, such as lawsuits, can be time-consuming, costly, and raise legal issues (Goodman, 2012)

On the other hand, offline conflicts can be dealt with using conventional dispute resolution methods augmented by online technology.  Although ODR’s available approaches range from negotiation and mediation to modified arbitration to changed jury trials, this iBrief focuses on on online environment negotiation and mediation. In particular, websites that use mediation techniques to help resolve disputes are reviewed and evaluated (Goodman, 2012)

Online mediation, as with traditional mediation, allows the mediator to adapt the process to meet the particular needs of the contestants. In addition to improving some of the benefits of conventional mediation, there are also advantages to resolving disputes over the Internet: “The mechanism would allow for greater flexibility, more creative solutions and faster decision making.” In particular, the benefits of cyber mediation mentioned below include cost savings, accessibility and avoiding complex jurisdictional issues (Kaufmann-Kohler & Schultz, 2004)

In terms of cost savings and convenience, As with traditional mediation, an advantage of Internet mediation is that it can provide substantial savings compared to traditional litigation, which can be extremely expensive. Cyber mediation can potentially be the only feasible option for those who are not able to afford long distances or for those involved in low-dollar e-commerce disputes (Rule, 2003)

With lawyer fees may be the largest expense in traditional law enforcement, or even traditional mediation at times, parties can save a lot in cyber mediation, where hiring a lawyer often is unnecessary. For instance, if the parties are liable and dispute only about the amount of a monetary solution, then all the websites mentioned above may provide appropriate automated cyber mediation for the settlement of their dispute. Furthermore, considerable cost savings can be made because online mediation does not require parties to pay for long distance telephone or teleconferences (Rule, 2003)

The most acknowledged advantage of online mediation is that contestants do not have to travel long distances to negotiate. During a conventional dispute resolution process, at least one of the parties may be forced to travel a lot because online conflicts can occur between persons from far distances, including different countries. As parties may be able to participate from their respective location or residence in cyber mediation, this can lead to lower costs and lower expenses. Neutral mediation facilities are not needed for rent, and relevant documents and materials are readily available and do not require large distances to be transported (Goodman, 2012)

The asynchronous existence of email communications also has several advantages. Messages are not broadcast live but can be recorded and eventually distributed. As it is possible to write, post and respond to mails, servers and web post at any time, it is much more convenient to participate in cyber mediation. In conventional mediation there are few scheduling problems where time and place for meetings are required (Goodman, 2012)

Parties can participate in the negotiations at convenient times when they are ready. Without affecting the flow of the mediation, the mediator can caucus with either or both parties privately.  In contrast to the traditional mediation, the mediator is able to spend time in one party without wasting the time of the other party, who traditionally would sit waiting for the next stage of mediation (Goodman, 2012)

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