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Californian online dispute resolution specialist heads for UK

Modria to set up European HQ as it launches Dutch neighbour dispute scheme

24 July 2013

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Graham Ross, European vice president of Californian online dispute resolution (ODR) specialist Modria, has said the company is to look for a European base in the UK in September.

Modria was set up in 2011 by Colin Rule, former head of dispute resolution at eBay and PayPal and Chittu Nagarajan, who worked with him as head of community court initiatives. The company has offices in San Jose and Chennai, India.

Earlier this year, Professor Richard Susskind, the Lord Chief Justice's IT adviser, attacked the Civil Justice Council for "failing to even look into" the potential of online dispute resolution schemes.

Lord Neuberger said last month, in a speech on affordable justice, that the courts in England and Wales "may well have something to learn from online dispute resolution on eBay and elsewhere".

Ross, co-founder of Lawtel with his colleague Gerald Impey, said Modria's first court project in Europe would be launched this month in Holland.

He said the project, in partnership with the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law, would combine Modria's techonology with a travelling judge, who would visit neighbours and help settle disputes in a "speedy, low cost" but also fair and just manner.

"It is thanks to the savings enjoyed by the courts through our technology that the cost of a travelling judge is made achievable," he said.

Ross said that a new European directive on online dispute resolution would actively encourage its use by requiring websites selling to consumers to carry an ODR link.

"The main advantages of ODR are accessibility, because the internet is everywhere, cost and speed," he said.

Ross added that Modria helped organisations which handle a large number of claims, rather than individuals.

On its website, Modria explains how its platform aims to combine 'deep knowledge of legal processes' with a 'reliable toolset in the cloud'.

The explanation continues: 'The Modria diagnosis module collects and organizes all the relevant information about the issue and suggests possible solutions. The negotiation module distills points of contention and enables the parties to discuss the matter directly and on the record.

'If the parties are unable to resolve the issue through negotiation, the mediation module provides an impartial third party to help clarify issues and brainstorm options.

'If no mutual agreement can be reached, the arbitration module lets the parties select a decision maker who examines the facts and renders a decision. Throughout the entire process, users can engage in transparent, secure discussions and submit rich assets such as documents and videos supporting their arguments.'

Jean-Yves Gilg is editor of Solicitors Journal

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