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Report advocates mandatory online dispute resolution

10 July 2019

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Online dispute resolution (ODR) must be made mandatory to succeed, according to an independent report published by the Legal Services Board last week.

The 76-page report into international approaches to the application of technology in the legal sector pointed to the adoption of mandatory ODR in British Columbia in 2015, where the success of the scheme has encouraged courts elsewhere in Canada and the US to also promote online mediation.

The British Columbia initiative was established to help individuals and SMEs settle disputes outside of court. The service was trialled on property disputes to begin with but has since been broadened out to cover most small claims valued at up to $35,000, as well as personal injury claims up to $50,000, since April 2019.

The report, The Use and Regulation of Technology in the Legal Sector beyond England and Wales, says: “If ODR is not mandatory, its use can be undermined by one party who refuses to co-operate”, adding: “This is a good example of how regulatory interventions can be vital to the take-up of technology.”

Produced by legal services consultant Alison Hook of Hook Tangaza, the paper is the first of a series of research papers commissioned by the Legal Services Board part of its ongoing project: Developing approaches to regulation for the use of technology in legal services.

The papers are being published alongside a series of podcasts designed to assist legal services regulators and providers in responding to the ethical and regulatory challenges presented by disruptive technologies.

In the first episode, Hook outlines the lessons to be learned from abroad and compares the varying responses to technology by regulators internationally.

While, episode two sees King’s College London’s Professor Roger Brownsword look beyond legal services to understand whether UK financial services and medical device regulators may have lessons to share with legal services regulators.

Future topics include: blockchain; the implications of technology for legal education and training; and the suitability of the Legal Services Act as a framework for regulating technology.

LSB chair Dr Helen Phillips said: “As one of its three new five-year policy objectives, the Board will work to ensure that access to legal services is increased through the promotion of responsible technological innovation that carries public trust.

“This new series of papers and podcasts marks the LSB’s first published work under this objective and I’m particularly grateful to contributors for their insights.”

To listen to the podcast and read the research papers visit: https://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/our-work/current-work/technology-and-regulation

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Regulation Litigation Procedures Courts & Judiciary