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Journal article

Equality of arms in the digital age

12 May 2008


Electronic commerce is important, and perhaps, inevitable. Thus to consider the legal implications of the growth and development of electronic commerce is essential. However, the lack of suitable dispute resolution mechanisms in cyberspace will constitute a serious obstacle to the further development of electronic commerce. Bearing this in mind, this paper argues that when Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) moves to cyberspace, particularly arbitration and mediation as the main types of ADR, the form of online alternative dispute resolution (OADR) can maximise the growth of e-commerce. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the internet are two very topical issues. Online alternative dispute resolution (OADR), or ADR online, refers to the use of internet technology, wholly or partially, as a medium by which to conduct the proceedings of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), in order to resolve commercial disputes which arise from the use of the internet. Those proceedings are operated by neutral private bodies under published rules of procedure. Accessibility to OADR schemes means that the OADR mechanism can be called upon when needed. Since ADR is a fast growing area of law, and since the internet is fast becoming ubiquitous, accessibility is one of OADR's greatest strength. However, given that OADR is conducted through electronic means, accessibility will be associated to a great extent with technology. Therefore, this article concludes that there are technological challenges that need to be overcome if there is to be a swift and successful deployment of online ADR in a cross-border environment.

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