BENEFITS OF ODR
a) One of the most notable advantages of ODR is that parties do not necessarily have to travel for proceedings when using mechanisms like online mediation or arbitration. For example, if the parties have established liability and their dispute is only about the amount of a monetary settlement, the fully automated cyber-mediation or arbitration websites discussed above can be sufficient and effective to resolve the dispute. All a party needs to do is move their hands on an internet-enabled device. ODR makes it easy for each party to decide when to answer or participate; and allows each party to consider their views and positions before responding or participating.
b) Additionally, the majority of these ODR service providers are open 24/7. Any delays brought on by waiting to get the proper forms can be avoided if interested parties simply visit the provider’s website and complete certain electronic forms. Additionally, parties can quickly get data and other information regarding their cases in real-time thanks to the internet. When compared to fax, email is also more effective and efficient because it allows for the simultaneous sending of documents from several parties, which saves time and money.
c) The ODR system is very adaptable. The parties concerned have complete control over when they are available to talk about their issues. Additionally, parties are able to decide whether they want to use immediate or delayed modes of communication.
ODR offers both synchronous and asynchronous ways to resolve conflicts, making this conceivable. Video calls and Zoom meetings are examples of synchronous means.
Alternatively, parties may decide to settle their disputes asynchronously through email correspondence.
d) ODR is also fairly informal. It does not strictly follow the rules. The ways in which parties can present their evidence are incredibly versatile and inventive. Therefore, this arrangement facilitates consent between the parties.
By offering a prompt and impartial resolution of legal issues and easing the workload of judges, ODR technology will significantly improve Nigeria’s judicial system. Nigeria is already well-positioned for the upcoming justice sector change thanks to a number of factors.
Internet usage growth and the expansion of arbitration and mediation among lawyers are two prominent factors. Intriguingly, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reported that as of July 2019, there were around 122 million active internet users, i.e. half of the population. Given that more individuals in Nigeria have access to the internet and may simply choose to resolve their conflicts online, this demonstrates the potential for rapid adoption of online dispute resolution in the country.
It is noteworthy that in 2021, the Edo State Judiciary trained no fewer than 100 persons in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) to improve the system for commercial dispute resolution and contract enforcement in the state. This undoubtedly qualifies as a step in the right direction to enhance the justice system in Nigeria and should be emulated by other states till nationwide applicability is attained.