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Reviving the ‘new handshake’ in the wake of a pandemic

Reviving the ‘new handshake’ in the wake of a pandemic

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Amy J. Schmitz, University of Missouri School of Law

Keywords: online dispute resolution (ODR), COVID-19, e-commerce, consumer empowerment, A2J, remedies

Abstract: It is often assumed that companies and consumers are on opposing ‘teams’. In reality, however, consumers and companies enjoy more commonalities than contradictions. Both benefit when deals go well and disputes are resolved quickly and cheaply. The problem is that face-toface dispute resolution can be costly in terms of time and money, and even dangerous in these times of COVID-19. Furthermore, getting lawyers is generally impractical and overly expensive in consumer cases. The solution is a well-designed online dispute resolution (ODR) system that harnesses business and consumer commonalities, and creates a win–win for all stakeholders in e-commerce disputes. That is not to say that ODR is the ‘be all and end all’ for e-commerce disputes. All ODR is not fair and efficient. Furthermore, the digital divide remains a concern and the internet undoubtedly generates vulnerabilities for consumers, but it also creates opportunities for consumer empowerment. The time is right to take advantage of those opportunities, and create a unified ODR system that provides fast and fair resolutions worldwide. This article discusses ideas for such a system to create a ‘new handshake’ that inspires trust in e-commerce.

Author Biography: 

Professor Amy J. Schmitz joined the University of Missouri School of Law and the Center for Dispute Resolution as the Elwood L. Thomas Missouri Endowed Professor of Law in 2016. Previously she was a professor at the University of Colorado School of Law for over 16 years. Prior to teaching, Professor Schmitz practised law with large law firms in Seattle and Minneapolis, and served as a law clerk for the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. She serves on the Association of American Law Schools Executive Committee on Commercial and Consumer Law, was an external scientific fellow of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, and is a researcher with the ACT Project exploring AI and ODR at the Cyberjustice Lab. She also has taught in France, South Africa and England, and has been an expert and liaison for the United Nations working group seeking to create a global ODR mechanism (UNCITRAL WG III). Professor Schmitz has published over 50 articles in law journals and books.

Publication Date:  23 December 2020

Citation: Schmitz, A. J. (2020). Reviving the ‘new handshake’ in the wake of a pandemic. Mediation Theory and Practice5, 32–54.

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