The Consumer Protections bureau for British Columbia has begun offering a pilot version of their Online Dispute Resolution platform, with the goal of improving the efficiency and lowering costs of settling disputes. ODR is a way of conducting arbitration and mediation through the web, with all of the resources kept in a digital format, allowing for simple and asynchronous access, and efficient negotiation from anywhere.
The program is currently free, can be accessed at any time, and allows Consumer Protections BC to step in as a neutral third-party in specific situations. Depending on the success of this program, plans are in the works to extend ODR to the Civil Resolution Tribunal to handle small claims cheaper and faster than if they were to go to court. Success of the program in BC would provide a nice proving ground for the platform, to which other jurisdictions could look when developing their own ODR methods.