Fighting injustice has been reiterated as a top priority by the world leaders as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 16 on 25 September 2015. This has been a reaction to the increased clogging of courts and tribunals across the world. A large number of unresolved and pending cases before the European Court of Human Rights relate to violations of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 on a right to a fair and expeditious and enforceable trail, as individuals experience excessive lengths and costs of domestic judicial proceedings and other issues obstructing their access to justice.
Between 1959 and 2014, as many as 9865 of a total of 17754 cases, or 55.56 % of all cases filed indeed concerned Article 6, of which 4198 were due to a i) breach of the right to a fair trial, 5331 were ii) due to the length of proceedings, and 336 were iii) due to non-enforcement. The European Court of Human Rights early on established that Article 6(1) not only confers upon individuals the right to a fair trial in proceedings already pending against them, but also a right to access the courts to commence an action, in the case of Golder v the UK 1975. Since then, the Court has, as proved by the above-mentioned statistics, in several cases found Article 6 to be breached on grounds of inability to afford legal counsel, excessive length of process or similar conditions making individuals unable to access justice. The Consultative Council of European Judges’ (CCJE) Magna Carta of Judges, recently reemphasised the importance of “swift, efficient and affordable dispute resolution” and as such proposed online dispute resolution (ODR) as a promising solution.
As a corollary, several EU Member States have thus made significant efforts to reform their judiciaries to expand the use of ICT, ADR and ODR to respond to this development. National courts, but also prominent Justices such as UK Lord Justice Briggs have in common their ambition of providing ‘effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using lawyers’. A solution many scholars and professionals look to is the systematic inclusion of online dispute resolution mechanisms in court procedures.
The scholars and professionals that will be present during the ODR2016 conference will together work on valuable contributions for the ODR2016 trend report. Among other topics, the trend report will touch upon the possibility of providing structured and enriching information on an issue-by-issue basis to optimise user experiences within court systems. Is ODR able to significantly cut financial costs, time and emotional burdens for users and providers of judicial services? Download the draft trend report and find out what already has been written, and join us at the ODR 2016 conference to contribute to its final publication!