Vancouver Conference on Online Dispute Resolution

♫ If you want it you can get it
If you choose it don’t regret it
If you feel it make it real
It’s what you wanted don’t forget it..♫

Music and lyrics by April Start.

During the first week of November, 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia will hold the first ever conference devoted to the topic of Consumer Protection Issues and Online Dispute Resolution (“ORD”). The conference proponents include the US Government, the EU, The Czech Court of Arbitration, eBay and PayPal, and the ICANN Office of the Ombudsman.

According to Dr. Frank Fowlie, the Ombudsman for ICANN, the conference “will aim to have a fulsome discussion concerning trans-national and national consumer protection schemes, and the use of emerging technologies to act as a platform for the resolution of complaints, and fraudulent activity.”

Dr. Richard Susskind has stated that ODR is one of the top 10 ‘disruptive’ technologies facing the legal profession. As commerce moves to the Internet, comsumers and industry alike will be looking for ways to resolve disputes in a low-cost and efficient manner. These parties may not be willing to adopt a dispute resolution model that is tied to litigation that seeks to enforce the law of a particular geographic location, particularly if that law is deemed to favour one of the parties.

For example, the Abritration Center for International Disputes (ADR.EU) “helps brand and trade mark owners, domain name registrants and registration companies all over the world to resolve conflicts in a fast, efficient and cost-effective fashion.” This Center is affiliated with the Czech Court of Arbitration.

It is important for lawyers from all nations to be involved in the growth, development and application of ODR as it emerges into the complaint resolution process. Canadian lawyers in particular, as conference participants, stand to be in a key role to help shape this technology as it interacts with law and economics. After all, if you feel it, make it real…


  1. Interesting that this is billed as ‘the first’ such conference, as there is a conference on that topic at the end of this month, involving some of the same people (eBay/PayPal, Frank Fowlie).

    I raised the question last spring whether online DR has a future. There were no comments here, but several people on my list expressed scepticism. However, hope springs eternal, and it would be well worth having if it can be made to work.

    The United States has proposed consumer-oriented ODR in the context of Organization of American States discussions. The texts can be found here under “Other Links of Interest”.

    General information on ODR can be found here.

  2. Is there a conference website?

  3. Here is the the discussion of ODR on the ULCC list in April 2009 – some scepticism was expressed, and a few issues that would have to be managed for a success. The discussion was not focused only on consumer disputes but they would be covered by many of the points made.

  4. This is not the first conference about ODR generally, there have been several. One was hosted in Victoria in June 2008, and the next ODR Fourm will be in Buenos Aires in June 2010.

    However, this is the first international conference which will be focused on ODR and Consumer Issues uniquely.

    The conference planning committee includes a dozen or so of the world’s leading experts on the subject of the use of technology and disputes (including Dave Bilinksy). The planning committee will meet twice in the upcoming months to craft an agenda.