This chapter is from “Online Dispute Resolution
Theory and Practice,” Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Ethan Katsh & Daniel Rainey ( Eds.), published, sold and distributed by Eleven International Publishing.
The Hague, Netherlands at: www.elevenpub.com.
A decade has passed since the first online dispute resolution initiatives were launched in
Europe. Undoubtedly, the European contribution to the initial phase of ODR deployments
has been significant: of the forty-six ODR sites reported by Conley Tyler in 2003, twenty
were based in European countries.
As with any new technology, the boom of ODR services
in Europe over the past decade has nevertheless been accompanied by some delay in
achieving its full potential, possibly as a result of an of underestimation by its original
pioneers of the marketing effort and investment required to attract adequate numbers of
early adopters. While ODR services rose to thirty-eight sites in 2004, some of them were
no longer, even at that time, providing services.
In addition, it has to be borne in mind
that a review of the list shows that many were well established, and still continuing, ADR
organizations or business associations who were at that time simply engaged initiatives
to examine the future that technology could offer rather than launching a committed and
specific ODR service.
Since 2004, Europe has, notwithstanding, continued to be not only
at the forefront of ODR development and usage but also a leading centre for ODR research
and discussion. At present, the current state of the art of ODR in Europe constitutes an
opportunity to instill realism into the enthusiastic forecasts whilst still making significant
progress with making ODR services the default systems to resolve online disputes as well
as colonizing off-line domains.
This paper offers an overview of the present situation of
ODR in Europe and discusses effective development of ODR deployments to handle online,
offline, national and cross-border disputes in Europe. To do so, we proceed by first
defining the scope of ODR and reviewing existing services. We then continue by analyzing
the major challenges faced by ODR in Europe and finally conclude by suggesting some
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