Thursday, June 28, 2012

Talking Global Dispute Resolution at the United Nations


[LtoR]: Daniel Doktori ’13, Rory Van Loo ’07, Leila Perkins ’13; Eugene Karlik ’13

In May three clinic students Daniel Doktori ’13, Eugene Karlik ’13, and Leila Perkins ’13 traveled to New York with Lecturer and HNMCP Assistant Director Rory Van Loo ’07 to present their recommendations for resolution of cross-border e-commerce disputes to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).  The presentation marked the culmination of a semester spent working remotely with Modria, a start-up online dispute resolution (ODR) company, and its CEO Colin Rule.

“Presenting at the UN was a bucket list moment, “ said Doktori. “There we were, presenting our research to about 50 delegates from a variety of countries, each of which had a strong knowledge of and feelings about the relevant issues. We were contributing to the dialogue in a very real way. All in all, pretty awesome.”

The issue of designing cross-border ODR systems rose in prominence in late 2011, when the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) both announced ambitious plans to launch cross-border online dispute resolution systems. In November 2011 the EU adopted a resolution to create a single-entry-point online platform to help resolve disputes concerning purchases made online between consumers and businesses in different EU countries. Around the same time, an UNCITRAL Online Dispute Resolution working group declared that it would launch a global pilot ODR system in late 2012.

Starting in January 2012, the students conducted phone interviews and administered two online surveys of stakeholders across Europe. They did deep dives into Germany, England, and—in partnership with  Anna-Karin Berglund LLM ’12—Sweden before producing a report summarizing key themes and making design recommendations for cross-border ODR. In addition to its presentation at the UN, the team also delivered a separate presentation of its findings through videoconference to an international group of ODR practitioners and alternative dispute resolution faculty from law schools such as Penn State, Harvard, and Stanford.