Erasing Barriers to Justice

The potential of Online Dispute Resolution


Erasing Barriers to Justice

♫ In a world where justice seemed
so far, Barriers and hurdles, like an
endless scar, A new dawn rises, breaking
the night,Online Dispute Resolution,
a beacon of light…

— Music and lyrics by ChatGPT.

The pursuit of justice, a fundamental human right, faces obstacles in traditional legal systems: inefficiency, high costs, delays and limited access. The digital age introduces a transformative solution, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), which enhances justice’s accessibility, efficiency and equity globally.

Albert Einstein’s words, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them,” underlines the need for innovative approaches like ODR. Unlike conventional attempts, which resemble rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, ODR truly transforms the justice system. Here’s how:

Accessibility Across Borders

Geographic distance is one of the most significant barriers to justice. An APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) survey of small businesses found 58% of respondents listed it as a “major” or “severe” problem, which rose to 74% in emerging countries. (ABAC, Realizing the Untapped Potential of MSMEs in APEC: Practical Recommendations for Enhancing Cross-Border Trade (November 2018) at iv, vi, 52, 54, 57, 68).

An international ODR platform that is enforceable in cross-border disputes would hold great promise in addressing this problem, particularly where parties and evidence might be located in different countries. Article II and V of the New York Convention lay down a uniform rule that can address the recognition and enforcement of an award (

Cost-Effective & Timely Resolution

Traditional legal proceedings are notoriously costly, including lawyer fees, court fees and travel. ODR eliminates the need for physical appearances, travel and extensive paperwork. Parties can engage in dispute resolution online, saving time and money while still ensuring a fair and just resolution.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Doing Business Report 2020, reported an average of 440 days to resolve a simple contract dispute involving a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise in a domestic APEC court, at a cost of 37% of the value of the claim (

Civil and family cases in Canadian courts have reached a crisis point according to The Advocates’ Society. They state that the worst delays are in Ontario, where litigants can expect to wait up to five years to have a dispute settled by a judge.

ODR platforms streamline proceedings, overcoming traditional constraints like court schedules and resource scarcity.

Privacy and Confidentiality

ODR offers confidentiality in sensitive cases, even in family and private matter disputes. This can encourage parties to engage more openly.

Empowerment of Self-Represented Parties

ODR platforms, exemplified by B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, guide self-represented parties, making justice accessible to those without legal backgrounds.

Flexibility of Dispute Resolution Methods

ODR methods include negotiation, mediation and arbitration, which cater to diverse disputes and parties’ preferences.

In conclusion, ODR revolutionizes justice by dismantling geographical, financial and procedural barriers. Empowering individuals to seek resolution, ODR transforms the justice system into an inclusive, efficient and affordable entity. Integrating ODR into the justice system, as done in B.C. with the CRT, heralds a new era. A new dawn may be breaking.

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