Online Dispute Resolution for Small Civil Claims in Victoria: A New Paradigm in Civil Justice
Keywords: Online dispute resolution, Small civil claims.
This article seeks to explore some of the implications of integrating information and communications technology into judicial processes to resolve small civil claims. It argues that, as ODR moves from individual private-sector initiatives to widespread public sector institutionalisation, governance and value questions will need to be seriously considered. This is because questions regarding the appropriateness of the use of certain ODR systems in the resolution of small claims and consumer disputes persist, especially in relation to the use of systems which are fully autonomous. For example, how are fundamental due process requirements to be balanced against the economic constraints of resolving low value disputes? What are the limits to the evolution of civil justice to make it more accessible? It is argued that, while ODR holds vast potential for increasing access to justice, attention needs to be given to the dispute system design to ensure that it achieves that goal and does not result in the erosion of fundamental values of civil justice, including accessibility, transparency, legal validity and accountability.