October 18, 2012

A public meeting of the Study Group on Online Dispute Resolution was held under the auspices of the Advisory Committee on Private International Law on October 18, 2012, at the Department of State, Room 240, South Building, State Department Annex 4, 2430 E Street, NW, Washington DC.

The meeting was convened to discuss the continuing work in UNCITRAL on the development of online dispute resolution (ODR) legal instruments for resolving both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) cross-border e-commerce disputes, in anticipation of a sixth meeting of the UNCITRAL working group on online dispute resolution scheduled to take place in Vienna, November 5-9. The working group was established by the Commission in July 2010 pursuant to a U.S. proposal. The UNCITRAL working group is preparing generic ODR procedural rules applicable to low- value, high-volume cross-border e-commerce transactions as well as separate annexes on guidelines and minimum requirements for ODR providers and neutrals, substantive legal principles for resolving disputes, and a cross-border enforcement mechanism.

The Study Group reviewed the current draft of the proposed UNCITRAL generic ODR procedural rules and the report of the last UNCITRAL Working Group session in May 2012. The discussion centered on scope of the claims to be covered, the need for buyers to be provided fair and adequate notice of any binding arbitration agreement whether pre- or post-dispute, challenges to the online arbitrator, standards for resolving disputes including use of the terms of the contract and equitable principles, the need for arbitral decisions to be able to make final and binding awards to ensure effective remedies for the claimant, and protections against fraud and misuse.

No matter was resolved. No report was approved. We anticipate that another meeting will be scheduled in advance of the May 13-17, 2013 UNCITRAL working group session.