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JILT 2005 Issue 2 & 3 - Online Dispute Resolution: Challenges for Contemporary Justice

Online Dispute Resolution: Challenges for Contemporary Justice



Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler and Thomas Schultz
Kluwer Law International
ISBN 90 411 23180
Cost £80.00

Online Dispute Resolution, or ODR is still a fairly novel concept, one with which not many in the dispute resolution community are familiar with. Nevertheless, the interest generated by this new concept is certainly not confined to its theoretical dimension. Increasing global transactions and interactions, facilitated by global communication networks, such as the internet, lead, by necessity, to more cross-border disputes, where in many cases and situations, litigation is impractical. Hence it is necessary to develop new forms of dispute resolution, overcoming the difficult barriers of jurisdiction as well as geographical and cultural distances. The use of information and communications technology in dispute resolution processes goes some way to jump these hurdles and this is what the concept of ODR is concerned with.

Gabrielle Kaufmann Kohler’s and Thomas Schultzes’ book provides an excellent and systematic review of ODR as a new form of dispute resolution, thoroughly researched, which conceptualises the issues arising in the field of ODR. It is addressed to and will provide a useful tool or source of reference for practitioners and academics alike and will be of interest to people working the field of arbitration, ADR, internet law, e-commerce, the regulation of e-commerce transactions and international trade. The book is comprehensive in its coverage and full of insights and, no doubt, will become the standard text in this field, as it is written in a lucid, not overly legalistic style.

The first chapter of the book takes stock of the current state of play of online dispute resolution, describing the main methods of ODR, the methods of communication and the main issues such as the crucial issue of funding. The second chapter looks at the regulatory and policy issues. It examines the driving forces behind ODR (such as providing increased access to justice) and who are the drivers in the driving seat (such as governments, industry and consumer associations) and lists the core principles which should govern ODR schemes and how these should be implemented. The third chapter covers practical aspects, such as ODR clauses, technical aspects, electronic evidence and security issues, as well as due process. Perhaps since the authors’ background is strongly rooted in arbitration, the chapter has a greater focus on online arbitration (binding and non-binding). The third chapter also looks at the crucial issue of enforcement. It describes the mechanisms for enforcing ODR results, both through legal processes and enforcement through self-regulation or through the use of controlling the resources at play.

The strength of the book is a strong combination of the authors’ expertise in ADR & arbitration with a perspective from the law and technology field. This book can only be strongly recommended to anyone interested in ODR.

Julia Hornle is a solicitor who frequently contributes to JILT. She teaches at Queen Mary University's Institute of Computer & Communications Law (CCLS). She can be reached at: <>.


This is a Book Review published on 30 January 2006.

Citation: Hornle, 'Online Dispute Resolution: Challenges for Contemporary Justice’, Book Review, 2005 (2-3) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT).<>.