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Technology and Mediation Values

Technology and Mediation Values

How might technology impact the values of traditional mediation?

 

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I think particularly in the consumer context, it’s completely . . . It also changes. Normally mediators are expected to be a bit more interventionist or to act as a bit more a conciliatory role. That is what is expected, particularly also because you have some sort of imbalance of power. You have traders who get these disputes all the time, who are “repeat players” as the Internet should call them, and then you have the “why should-ers”, the consumers who go to the mediation for the first time.

 

So the mediator has also to ensure that there is some sort of level playing field between parties who have very different knowledge and expertise. So it changes, a bit, the paradigm of traditional mediation processes in the consumer context. Then if you incorporate technology, it even changes it further because parties communicate through different means.

 

There are different challenges and opportunities for communication, and those have to be addressed in order to harness the potential that technology can offer to resolve disputes where parties prefer to be resolved at a distance.

 

The funny thing is I remember hearing. It was the eBay CEO that said that one of the reasons why they purchased Skype was that when they offer dispute resolution services, they could use Skype also. You know? Because they are buyers and sellers. But it turned out that nobody wanted to use Skype. You know? You buy something from somebody who you never met.

 

You have a problem with that person. The last thing you want to see is to see them face-to-face on Skype. You know? Parties prefer to communicate in writing. You know? They would never take the option, even though it was given, to communicate face-to-face.

 

You have to fill in a form. They have different processes, depending on what you buy. If you buy a car of high value, it’s a different process. They have different providers outside eBay. Also, the main provider, sort of, within eBay is PayPal. The big thing is that PayPal can move the money from one account to another. Often, they impose the decision. They may adjudicate a decision. But what is clear is that nobody wants to meet over Skype. They prefer to resolve the issue by exchanging messages, reading text.

About the mediator

Pablo Cortes Profile Pic

Pablo is a Senior Lecturer and a non-practising Spanish attorney. He conducts research in the field of dispute resolution, civil procedure and consumer law. He was invited to be a keynote speaker in two international conferences, and he has been invited as a speaker at many other conferences in 15 different countries. He was invited to participate in expert meetings by various organisations, including the UN Commission for International Trade Law... View Mediator