First, I know you’re used to seeing this blog written by Nayla Mitha. I’m very pleased to let you know that Nayla’s engaged, will be getting married later this week and will be moving to Ottawa to be with her new husband, Roger Beaudry. I want to publicly wish Roger an Nayla all the best. Nayla will be moving on to other things in Ottawa and Roger will continue his excellent work with the Stitt Feld Handy Group.
Last week I attended an online dispute resolution (ODR) conference in Victoria BC. One thing that was clear coming out of the conference is that ODR is coming. I’m sure we’ll be resolving disputes very differently 10 years from now than we are now, making use of the new technology. For example, we saw how one California-based mediator uses webcams to hold mediations with people in different locations. He sees everyone on his computer screen (and they see him) and he does his joint session with everyone there. When he goes into caucus, he shuts out one side and talks to the other. I see this becoming a very common process sooner rather than later. It’s obviously a lot less expensive than video-conferencing. I’m trying to learn more about the technology and I suspect we’ll be using it before long.
We’re also hoping to launch our own online dispute resolution product by the end of the year. We’ll be launching Chambersettle, a double blind bidding system. When people have a dispute, they can go to Chambersettle to make offers to each other. Each side will not learn of the other’s offer but will only be told if they reach or don’t reach a deal. They’ll have three rounds to make offers. If they don’t reach a deal but come close, they’ll be told they’re close and encouraged to make one more offer. It’s not a perfect system, of course, and won’t resolve all disputes, but it will be another option for people trying to put disputes behind them.
We’re right in the middle of the technology revolution and it’s exciting. There were 150 people at the ODR conference from all over the world. I’ll keep you advised.