Sunday, January 23, 2011

ODR In India: Will It Succeed?

Online dispute resolution in India (ODR in India) is in its infancy stage. Although it is much known in India yet when it comes to its actual implementation and use, India is slow in this regard.

The primary reason for this slow growth and adoption of ODR in India is lack of legal enablement of ICT systems in India. As a consequence, innovative methods like e-courts and ODR are still not introduced in the legal and judicial system of India.

Till the end of January 2011, India does not have even a single e-court and government supported ODR initiative. Of course, we have some private techno legal institutions like Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) that are providing ODR services in India. PTLB is also managing the exclusive e-courts training and consultancy centre of India.

Law Minister Veerappa Moily has announced many good initiatives to bring legal and judicial reforms in India. However, their actual implementation is still missing. Law Ministry has announced national litigation policy of India (NLPI), amendments to arbitration law of India, legal education reforms, legal practitioners’ bill, etc.

Not only these initiatives have remained unfulfilled but also none of them carries provisions regarding ODR and e-courts. Naturally, ODR and e-courts have neither any legislative nor governmental backing.

Another crucial problem pertains to lack of international harmonisation in this regard. There is a lack of dialogue between Indian and international community that can convince India to use ODR and e-courts.

Even there is inadequate and improper representation of India at various international bodies and organisations like United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). Institutions like PTLB are not part of these international organisations and institutions and this make the case of adoption of ODR and e-courts in India very weak.

In these circumstances, it would be safe to conclude that India would not be able to have ODR and e-courts for another five years. After this period, ODR and e-court may find a place in Indian legal and judicial system.