ODR from a European Perspective

In the final report from the June 2015 convening of the UIA World Mediation Forum, Elena Koltsaki of Thessalonia, Greece, led a panel addressing online dispute resolution (ODR) from an EU perspective.  She noted two principles at the outset:  First, a central goal of EU regulation is consumer protection and the provision of consumer redress.  Second, ODR is not merely the provision of conventional dispute resolution services via alternative technology, but rather technologically-modified methods of dispute resolution in areas that were otherwise impossible to accomplish. Read more »

Med/Arb Redux

Also at the UIA Forum in Amsterdam, a panel on “Med/Arb: Myth or Reality!” was offered, complete with exclamation mark.  The panelists were from the US and the UK, which seemed odd inasmuch as I had understood that the practice of med/arb — that is, of wearing more than one hat — is more broadly accepted in every region of the world other than those two.

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ADR and Challenges to Governmental Acton

The 21st meeting of the UIA’s World Forum of Mediation Centers took place in beautiful Amsterdam on June 5 and 6, 2015.  Co-Presidents Fabienne van der Vleugel and Colin Wall welcomed delegates mainly from Europe and the United States.  The first topic discussed was the use of mediation in public and administrative matters as practiced in Netherlands – that is, conflicts arising from challenges to governmental decision making.

One structural obstacle to public conflict resolution is the frequent requirement that parties at the table are not ultimately authorized to commit to an agreement – that they must revert to authorities or officials not at the table in order to effectuate the proposed deal.  Examples were cited of project in Belgium that did not involve critical stakeholders and were driven by policies of resources allocation rather than public need.  George Hanot of Con-Sent ADR noted that such outcomes reflect dispute avoidance rather than conflict resolution.  Pre-mediation and mediation were used in the planning and construction of a bridge in Netherlands that opened four years after it was proposed; by contrast, a proposed bridge in Antwerp has not been begun 20 years after it was proposed.

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The “Global Pound Conference” — CORRECTION

The International Mediation Institute has been bouncing around an intriguing idea – a replication of the fabled 1976 Pound Conference, but on a global scale and an internet-enabled synchronous platformI’m unclear whether this event will actually come to fruition, and the IMI organizers, true to form, have already “Pounded” the event with acronyms such as GPC, LOC and COG — but the concept is so neat that we should certainly be aware of it and monitor its development.

CORRECTION:  IMI Board member Michael McIlwrath writes to say:

Peter, YBIWCTF! (You Betcha It Will Come To Fruition!)  Anchor funding is already in place, and we have more than the minimum number of cities expressing serious interest, and several have already committed.  The idea was initially 15 cities, but so many are already committing or expressing interest that our focus is shifting to ensuring all of the conferences will achieve high levels of quality and broad stakeholder participation.

Sorry, Michael.  Sorry, IMI.  Onwards and Upwards….

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