Online mediation is a method in which parties can resolve their problems online without meeting each other physically. Meeting between the parties are arranged by way of phone calls, video calls or email or by any other method using internet through which both the parties should be comfortable. And in this meeting, the Mediator (a neutral third party who acts as an intermediary between the parties) encourages both parties to come to a mutual beneficiary agreement that satisfies everyone. No party needs to agree with the settlement which was created by a mediator.
Why one should choose mediation over litigation?
If litigation is filed in the court then the fruitful result of it takes years to come and in time fees and bills keep on increasing. Not only does one have to worry about a claim amount but the cost associated with the incoming of the result. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution method that is more accepted by the parties and it is cost-effective as well. So the mediation method is quicker and saves money for the parties as compared to the other alternatives.
Past of Online Mediation – Panchayat to Act
1. In India, mediation was started very early even before the British came to India. Before in India, there were panchayats who use to solve the conflicts between the peoples.
2. During panchayats peoples who have problems between them have to physically present and there was a sarpanch who will take a mutual decision for both the parties. Even now many rural areas in India use panchayat to solve their problems. But in the 1990s when India was at the urge of globalization at that time many new companies were set up in India and they were offering online mediation services to many different organizations and the common people.
3. In which both the parties don’t have to be physically present and the parties were allotted with the online trained mediators who will help them through emails. And now this mediation process is spread all around the world.
4. Mediation gained popularity as an ADR mechanism with the re-introduction of Lok Adalats in the Indian Judicial system. Enacted in1987, the Legal Services Authority Act gave statutory status to the Lok Adults in India for the first time. Under this act, the decision of the Lok Adalats has been awarded the same status as that of a civil court.
5. The development of mediation as an ADR mechanism can also be attributed to section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code(CPC), 1908 which was inserted by the CPC (Amendment) Act, 1999 with prospective effect from 1/7/2002. This particular development was due to the efforts of Hon’ble Mr. Justice A M Ahmadi. Ahmadi, the then Chief Justice of India, had invited the Institute for the Study and Development of Legal System (ISDLS) to India for a national legal exchange program between India and the USA.
Present Online Mediation – Covid and Lockdown
1. In today’s world mediation has become a Worldwide thing. It is used everywhere and had become an essential thing. In 2020-2021 we can see that our world has become more unsettled like never before and because of these coronaviruses our daily routine is very much disturbed. So many countries are adopting many new things in this pandemic.
2. As all courts are closed across the world and the judges are forced to postpone the physical hearing of any case because of the corona guidelines so many of the cases are been temporarily unsolved. But because of the mediators, there are many virtual ways and these ways are helping a lot in this situation. So because of the mediators, the courts can get some relief.
3. The mediators also provide the parties to solve their conflicts face to face with the help of conferences and these are conducted through online video calls. In this pandemic situation, people have adapted this mediator thing very rapidly and this is working very well for the countries. We only need electronic gadgets for solving our cases like phones, laptops, tablets, and computers.
4. There are many videos calling apps through which we can do conferencing like zoom, Google meets, etc. So the mediators conduct everything and then they solve the problems. Because of the video call, they are face to face each other so they can communicate about everything and come to a conclusion.
Future of Online Mediation and suggestions for improvement of it!
1. In India still, mediation is not a very well-known thing and many people don’t have any idea about this. But in future, as everything will be developed we can hope that our countries people will also start exploring new things and grab them and learn about them. And as people will start learning about this they will see the opportunities of it in future and who knows the future generations might see this as a profession. So for this India need to be ready.
2. Firstly our digital literacy in India we can see not everyone knows about digitalization and technology etc so the government has to make not only the urban areas but also the rural areas digital so that they can have at least basic knowledge of internet and it will make it easier for them to adopt mediation.
3. Secondly, we can see that mediation requires digital infrastructure like computers, smartphones, and the internet at their home so that they can take part in the online mediation process.
4. Thirdly we see that in India there is a lot of gender inequality like families will give phones n everything to boys but they will not allow the girl to use them. In India, women constitute only 28 percent of the total internet users. So this needs to be solved and there should be equality.
5. After all this, we can see and feel that many people in India do not trust mediation and online process all this they think that physically they can explain and discuss things better and they have trust issues regarding information confidentiality so we have to create awareness about this among peoples. And people many times think that the mediator might be a bribe and take the side of anyone which is wrong and because mediators are always neutral. If we overcome all these problems then the future of mediation will be very bright in India.
Top Online Dispute Resolution platforms
i. Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution Excellence (CADRE)
Founded by Shalini Saxena and Kanchan Gupta in the year 2017.
SAMA was founded by Akshetha Ashok, Vikram Kumar, and Pranjal Sinha in the year 2015.
The recent case of SAMA is assisting ICICI Bank in resolving 10,000 of their pending disputes through Online Dispute Resolution.
iii. Centre for Online Dispute Resolution(CODR)
Vikas Mahendra, a partner with law firm Keystone Partners, co-founded CODR in 2019.
Case Law for better understanding
There are two brothers say Mr. A and Mr. B and they both are fighting for their family property and finally, after many fights, they come to the conclusion to meet a lawyer and file a case in court but because of Covid guidelines and lockdown one cannot travel or meet anyone in physical and court were also closed for physical appearance. But Mr. A wanted to solve their property problem as soon as possible, so he asks his relatives for help and one of the relatives give him the idea to consult a mediator. So he starts finding a mediator through Google and gets one. Then both the parties explain their issues to the mediator through video call and then the mediator arranges a specific date and time for their problem. Then the mediator makes an agreement that fulfills both the parties’ needs and solves the cases through video conferencing with both the brothers together and the case is solved without being physically present and without traveling anywhere.
That’s how online mediation can lower the burden of courts in cases like e-commerce, property, etc and the justice will be served at the time and will not be delay.
This pandemic has made us realize that the things which we use to do offline can be done online as well. In India, the future of online mediation is bright because of many several reasons. There is much reason for accepting mediation like as our country is developing day by day so the government is planning to do everything with the help of the internet so that our country can also be called as one of the digital Countries in the world and as we can see nowadays everything is done digitally starting from a simple payment method to open bank accounts anything can be done with the help of internet and so is the court cases can also be solved digitally with the help of mediation. Lastly, the best benefits of the online mediation process make it a special and attractive process i.e low costs, as in this mediation process the person no need to be physically present at the venue, it saves a lot of money and time for the peoples. So mediation has a very bright future in India.
This article has been written by Akshay Chaudhary, 3rd Year BA.LLB Student at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat.
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