• Law & Order

Immediate Need for AI-powered Online Dispute Resolution System in India

Written by Vagish Yadav 

Fourth Year, BA. LLB. Amity Law School Lucknow 



Disclaimer: Please note that the views expressed below represent the opinions of the article's author. The following does not necessarily represent the views of Law & Order.

Introduction

After the lockdown, the shortcomings of the judicial system are coming into the light, foremost amongst them being technological backwardness in delivering justice. The Ministry of Law and Justice (Department of Justice), Government of India has recognized numerous agencies that can reduce the plethora of government litigation[1].

In the instant case, the need of the hour is of an online mode of Dispute Resolution. Online Dispute Resolution can also be a form of Alternate Dispute Resolution before the same or different forum.

Online Dispute Resolution has been defined by the UNCITRAL Working Group as a Mechanism for Resolution of Disputes through the application of electronic communications and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) [2].

Today, the importance of ODR has grown immensely due to the lockdown amidst the pandemic. Access of justice has become a concern today as thwarted functioning of lower courts and certain tribunals has adverse effects on the rights of the citizens and the functioning of democracy as a whole.

Online Dispute Resolution and its advantages

The technology in today’s world has expanded the scope of every sector immensely. The legal sector has also diluted itself in the era of a modern cult as a result of which a completely new form of disputes redressal forum has been created in the country which in simple language is known as ODR or Online Dispute Resolution.

There are various tools by the means of which Online Dispute Resolution can be done. Some of the most pragmatic ones are listed below:

1. E-mails: Emails are the fastest means of communication these days. It enables a person to file complaints, issue notices, etc. through electronic mail services which are quick and reliable. Recently, the courts are accepting the objections to the bail applications via email in light of the lockdown in effect due to COVID-19.

2. Video Conference: A speedy redressal can also be done very efficiently by the means of video conferencing of the parties in the dispute resolution of a matter as both the parties in spite of being away from each other can have a direct conversation without any third party. The various platforms that have risen to fame are Vidyo, Zoom, Webex, Jitsi Meet, MS-Teams, etc.

Some of the other methods by the way of which ODR can be conducted are listed as following[3]:

1. Web maps for ODR

2. ODR through Wikis

3. Making use of Social networking sites for dispute redressal

4. Making use of Web forums for dispute redressal

5. Discussing of disputed on various Chat rooms in order to form a consensus

6. Avatars

7. ODR through Instant messaging

8. Making efficient use of Mobile and smartphone technology

9. Using Blogs in order to solve a conflict

10. Making proper use of Artificial legal intelligence

11. VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) etc.

National and International ODR setups

National Setups have been described lucidly above. ODRways, BIMACC, Presolv360, and Online Consumer Mediation Centre are recognized by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India.

China is one of the leading countries in the development of Internet Courts. After the establishment of China’s first Internet court in Hangzhou [4], two other Internet courts have recently been established respectively in Beijing and Guangzhou [5]. In the meantime, China’s Supreme People’s Court published the Provisions on Several Issues Concerning the Trial of Cases by the Internet Courts, clarifying the types of cases within the jurisdiction of these courts and regulating certain procedural issues relevant to Internet courts [6].

Guangzhou Arbitration Commission (GZAC), founded on August 29, 1995, was one of the first seven arbitration institutions founded after the enactment of the 1994 Arbitration Law.

In 2007, GZAC commenced its study on online arbitration. Seven years later, it launched an unprecedented project to transform itself into an online arbitration institution.[7] Dozens of experienced IT engineers were retained and assigned into groups to develop the online arbitration system. Unlike other institutions that have generally chosen to cooperate with third-party service providers, GZAC employed its own technical team, IT engineers, and programmers dedicated to developing GZAC’s online arbitration system. Since then, the caseload of GZAC has skyrocketed. In 2017, it accepted 89,530 cases, among which 70,079 follow the online arbitration process entirely. In 2018, the number of online arbitrations handled by GZAC increased to 166,634 with the total dispute sum of RMB 9.5 billion (approximately USD 1.4 billion) [8].

At the very beginning, some local courts declined to enforce awards rendered in the online arbitration process for various reasons. Fortunately, the situation has changed. On February 23, 2018, the Supreme People’s Court issued a specific judicial interpretation concerning enforcement of arbitral award, referred to as Enforcement Provisions[9]. Article 14(2) of Enforcement Provisions arguably gives judicial recognition of the validity of notice provisions stipulated in arbitration rules, even though such a measure is technically incompatible with Civil Procedure Law and other regulations.

With new amendments, Tribunals can decide the appropriateness of online proceedings. New technologies involving AI and Machine Learning can be allowed to seep into arbitral proceedings.

Wevorce is another international ODR setup which helps in conducting amicable divorces. Matrimonial Disputes can be more amicably resolved with the help of Wevorce Technologies[10]. Wevorce provides divorce counseling and mediation and smooth processing of the entire process. Further, it lists out the optimal outcomes for the client and the spouse in order to avoid petty disputes. Other factors like parental planning, financial planning, and career planning are also considered in determining the effective result.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) is an international dispute resolution service provider administering procedure for domain name disputes. WIPO is also responsible for appointing panelists to adjudicate the disputes. The decisions are effective but legally non-binding on the parties and hence the parties are free to pursue litigation. Although these decisions are not binding on parties, it is binding on the domain name provider, who will then effect the changes as determined by the panelists’. Recourse to litigation is rarely done due to expensive and time-consuming cross-border litigation [11].

AI and Machine Learning in ODR

It is very important for all aspects of life to get accustomed to the AI ecosystem. AI ecosystem means the implementation and induction of AI technology into various fields like Banking, Medical and Health Care, Education, Legal Services, e-governance among others. AI has penetrated these fields and promoted the development of these fields by providing effective solutions and speedy remedies. The AI ecosystem has been gaining pace and nations are adopting strategies for implementation of artificial intelligence in order to pace the development of the nation.

There have been tier-based ODR envisioned and algorithms can be deployed for effective dispute resolution [12]. Expert systems, Search Methods, Heuristics among others are the AI tools that can be used to advance the efficiency of making decisions [13].

Drafting agreements is a task that has already been taken up by many organizations. In the case of Mergers and Acquisitions, AI analyzes the large set of documents that usually require a lot of labor and time. Due diligence robots are developed which automate due diligence tasks [14]. Since AI has the potential to apply Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Predictive Coding, the same can be used to maximize the interests of the parties and hence is a viable option for mediation [15].

Implementation of ODR in Courts of India

Though the Indian Judiciary has not commented through deciding disputes on the AI aspect of Dispute Resolution, the Courts have accepted the online and electronic means in a plethora of cases.

For simplification of the process and ease of pursuing proceedings, the E-Court System has been developed for the U.P. Real Estate Regulatory Authority [16] which allows the parties in the proceedings to be physically present at RERA only on the date of hearing. The rest of the process shall be completed online only.

The press release further stated that the procedure for registration of complaints as provided in the regulations would be in force till 2nd February 2020. Now, the complainants can sign up on www.up-rera.com/ecourt/signup, and thereafter a complaint can be filed in new forms.

In several cases, the Courts have accepted E-Mail and Whatsapp as a means of summons. Blue Ticks in Whatsapp are taken as proof that the summons has been delivered and the proceedings proceed accordingly [17]. The Supreme Court and High Courts have been taking up urgent cases throughout the lockdown period via video conferencing.

Feasibility of AI in India

It can be concluded that the ODR models where the involvement of AI is with respect to a suggesting entity and the involvement of humans with respect to a deciding entity are feasible. But when it comes to AI playing a dominant role, such models are considered to be less credible or reliable.

India has certain disadvantages with respect to the AI ecosystem and its mobile growth as of now. In the National Strategy on AI drafted by the Niti Aayog [18], points have been jotted down ascertaining common conundrums to the implementation of AI in its applications. These are explained hereinbelow with references to legal aspects:

  1. Lack of AI ecosystems: Data plays a very important role. The representation of data for the algorithms to understand is one of the problems. India has just started developing datasets and is in a nascent stage for big data analysis in the legal realm.

  2. Inadequate availability of AI expertise: The need for combined courses is a necessary evil in the developing nation. There is no educational degree that provides expertise in AI and Law in India. Au contraire, various Universities in the United States of America, and other countries do provide for such courses.

  3. Unclear Privacy and Security Concerns: The constitution of India provides for certain fundamental rights including the Right to Life and Liberty [19]. Right to Privacy is an essential right incorporated and blended in the Right to Life and Liberty [20]. The nation still lacks a clean, unblemished, proper, functioning, and coexisting model of privacy and security of the people of the country in order to take sensitive legal issues and problems on the internet. There is a big legislative vacuum for the AI ecosystem and it is basically because of a lack of research.

  4. High Cost of Implementation: The AI ecosystem is a recently developed one and the implementation of technologies in any field of work always demands a High Cost of Implementation.

  5. Low Awareness in adopting AI in business: The tragic drawback is the lack of awareness in the legal fraternity. This can be developed by promoting community law rooms where the use of technology can be promoted so that there are reliance and awareness of a credible alternative for dispute resolution.

Solutions and Recommendations

To overcome the problems in implementing an AI ecosystem in the Legal Fraternity and for enhancing the Online Dispute Resolution in India, we first need to provide for AI manpower and skill generation.

The solutions need to be concentrated categorically in certain fields. Firstly, to augment the legal feasibility of Online Dispute Resolution in India and AI dependent models of ODR, the development of research institutes is important. Centralized research in AI and Law shall be promoted. India’s capability of research is quantitatively and qualitatively limited [21]. Hence, the need of the hour is to promote research institutes and organizations in the field.

Secondly, there is a need for a framework of laws that can uphold the credibility of such online platforms of dispute resolution systems. Only then, the cases would increase in number. Thus, a harmonious model of security and privacy has to be constructed and laws have to be made accordingly.

Guidelines must incorporate principles of fairness, transparency, due process, and accountability [22].

Thirdly, the Dispute resolution Systems must expand in ambit. The dispute resolution organizations need to cover all kinds of disputes and all kinds of services when it comes to Online dispute resolution. In India, the matter can be broken down to filing, removing the defect, listing, first hearing, interim stay, counter applications upload, objection upload, and remainder proceedings.

This has been envisioned by Lodder-Zeleznikow [23] and a particular sequencing was suggested. This sequencing is as follows.

  1. There is a pre-measure i.e. a likely outcome of ODR.

  2. AI and Machine Learning tools should be used to resolve any disputes by means of argument and dialogue.

  3. If certain issues are unresolved, decision analysis techniques should come into play.

Fourthly, Natural Language Processing (NLP) needs to be developed. NLP is already being used in the legal sector today. But it still further needs to be developed in order to bring forth a revolutionary change in the legal industry [24].










[1] https://doj.gov.in/page/online-dispute-resolution-through-mediation-arbitration-conciliation-etc, last visited on 10th September 2019 3:47 PM IST. [2]http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/odr/V1700382_English_Technical_Notes_on_ODR.pdf, last visited on 7th July 2020. [3]BELLO, Adesina Temitayo (PhD), Online Dispute Resolution Algorithm; Artificial Intelligence Model as a Pinnacle, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072245 , last visited on 10th September 2019. [4]https://www.netcourt.gov.cn/portal/main/en/index.htm, last visited on 15th July 2020. [5]https://shanghai.ist/2018/09/10/internet-courts-open-in-beijing-and-guangzhou-following-the-first-in-hangzhou/, last visited on 15th July 2020. [6]http://arbitrationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2019/03/04/the-path-for-online-arbitration-a-perspective-on-guangzhou-arbitration-commissions-practice/ , last visited on 7th July 2020. [7] Ibid. [8] Ibid. [9] https://globalarbitrationnews.com/spc-provisions-sheds-light-on-enforcement-of-arbitral-awards/, last visited on 15th July 2020. [10]https://www.wevorce.com/how-it-works, last visited on 7th July 2020. [11]http://arbitrationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2018/03/29/online-dispute-resolution-future-alternative-dispute-resolution/ , last visited on 7th July 2020. [12]BELLO, Adesina Temitayo (PhD), Online Dispute Resolution Algorithm; Artificial Intelligence Model as a Pinnacle, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072245 , last visited on 7th July 2020. [13]Peruginelli, G. (2002). Artificial Intelligence in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In Sartor, G. (Eds.) Proceedings of the workshop on the Law of Electronic Agents (LEA02). [14]https://imanage.com/solution/imanage-ma-due-diligence-robot/ , last visited on 7th July 2020. [15] https://www.livelaw.in/columns/use-of-ai-odr-an-indian-perspective-159355, last visited on 7th July 2020. [16]https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/up-rera-to-start-e-courts-from-march-2020/73707680, last visited on 15th July 2020. [17] Mahima Rai v Sunny Chaudhary, Case No. 2014/17, Surabhi Sharma Vats (MM/ Mahila Court/ 01/ East/ KKD/ Delhi), Order dated 11.04.2018; Also see In re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation, Suo Motu writ Petition No. 3/2020, Order dated 10.07.2020. [18]Discussion Paper, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, Niti Aayog, June 2018. [19]Article 21, Constitution of India. [20]Justice (Retd) K. Puttuswamy v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012. [21]Discussion Paper, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, Niti Aayog, June 2018. [22]http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/odr/V1700382_English_Technical_Notes_on_ODR.pdf, last visited on 7th June 2020, 8:16AM. [23] Arno R. Lodder and John Zeleznikow. “Artificial Intelligence and Online Dispute Resolution” http://www.mediate.com/pdf/lodder_zeleznikow.pdf . [24]https://towardsdatascience.com/law-and-word-order-nlp-in-legal-tech-bd14257ebd06 , last visited on 7th July 2020. Bibliography

  1. https://doj.gov.in/page/online-dispute-resolution-through-mediation-arbitration-conciliation-etc, last visited on 10th September 2019 3:47 PM IST.

  2. http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/odr/V1700382_English_Technical_Notes_on_ODR.pdf, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  3. BELLO, Adesina Temitayo (PhD), Online Dispute Resolution Algorithm; Artificial Intelligence Model as a Pinnacle, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072245 , last visited on 10th September 2019.

  4. https://www.netcourt.gov.cn/portal/main/en/index.htm, last visited on 15th July 2020.

  5. https://shanghai.ist/2018/09/10/internet-courts-open-in-beijing-and-guangzhou-following-the-first-in-hangzhou/, last visited on 15th July 2020.

  6. http://arbitrationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2019/03/04/the-path-for-online-arbitration-a-perspective-on-guangzhou-arbitration-commissions-practice/, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. https://globalarbitrationnews.com/spc-provisions-sheds-light-on-enforcement-of-arbitral-awards/, last visited on 15th July 2020.

  10. https://www.wevorce.com/how-it-works, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  11. http://arbitrationblog.kluwerarbitration.com/2018/03/29/online-dispute-resolution-future-alternative-dispute-resolution/, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  12. BELLO, Adesina Temitayo (PhD), Online Dispute Resolution Algorithm; Artificial Intelligence Model as a Pinnacle, available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072245, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  13. Peruginelli, G. (2002). Artificial Intelligence in Alternative Dispute Resolution. In Sartor, G. (Eds.) Proceedings of the workshop on the Law of Electronic Agents (LEA02).

  14. https://imanage.com/solution/imanage-ma-due-diligence-robot/, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  15. https://www.livelaw.in/columns/use-of-ai-odr-an-indian-perspective-159355, last visited on 7th July 2020.

  16. https://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/regulatory/up-rera-to-start-e-courts-from-march-2020/73707680, last visited on 15th July 2020.

  17. Mahima Rai v Sunny Chaudhary, Case No. 2014/17, Surabhi Sharma Vats (MM/ Mahila Court/ 01/ East/ KKD/ Delhi), Order dated 11.04.2018; Also see In re Cognizance for Extension of Limitation, Suo Motu writ Petition No. 3/2020, Order dated 10.07.2020.

  18. Discussion Paper, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, Niti Aayog, June 2018.

  19. Article 21, Constitution of India.

  20. Justice (Retd) K. Puttuswamy v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 494 of 2012.

  21. Discussion Paper, National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, Niti Aayog, June 2018.

  22. http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/odr/V1700382_English_Technical_Notes_on_ODR.pdf, last visited on 7th June 2020, 8:16AM.

  23. Arno R. Lodder and John Zeleznikow. “Artificial Intelligence and Online Dispute Resolution” http://www.mediate.com/pdf/lodder_zeleznikow.pdf

  24. https://towardsdatascience.com/law-and-word-order-nlp-in-legal-tech-bd14257ebd06 , last visited on 7th July 2020.

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