Please upgrade your browser.

Party Empowerment and the CRT

Party Empowerment and the CRT

Is your ODR system based on principles of transformative mediation such as party empowerment?



Full Transcript

Yeah, this is, of course, there is lots of literature out there around empowering users to take control of their disputes. We are very sensitive about it, too, because the justice system, and many processes, are set up in a way that an ordinary person can never learn enough about it or understand what is happening.


So the first idea is that we have a great opportunity here to sort of start over in B.C. in creating this tribunal. That’s the first idea, that you create something that people do have a chance to understand.


But you are quite right. We are trying to give the user information. Somebody who might not have much dispute resolution experience, we are trying to give them some basic guidance. Here are some of the steps that you might want to take. Here is what an acceptable outcome might look like to you. It’s not going to be a case where you are going to put that, the TV store out of business because you are mad about the broken TV. A reasonable outcome might be that you get a discount or that you get a refund or something along those lines. This is the idea to give people this basic guidance.


If you think about it in the way that we are trying to do it, it’s just-in-time knowledge. It’s just-in-time information. It’s a little different than just-in-case knowledge where governments or public, legal-education information organisations want to put people through a training course to learn all about the law of contracts or consumer law or residential tenancy law, all of these sorts of things.


We’re not taking that approach where we’re educating them just in case they have a dispute in the next two-to-five years and they can use that knowledge. It’s the other way around where we’ve got somebody with a dispute and we know, again, we are trying to put ourselves in the mindset of that user saying, “Just tell me what I need to do. Just tell me how I can resolve this.” That’s the spirit, at least in the Solution Explorer, trying to give the user just the information that they need to resolve their dispute.


To be sure, it’s a fine balance. You can’t deliberately hold back some information in some cases, because it can get a little bit dangerous, would put the user in a bad situation. But at the same time, we are not setting out to boil the ocean and have our user read thousands of pages of information about the law of contracts, because we know that’s not what they want. We know our user is saying, “Just somebody, please tell me what I need to do,” and that’s the approach we are trying to take.

About the mediator

Darin Thompson Profile Pic

Darin Thompson is a lawyer with the Ministry of Justice in British Columbia, Canada. He currently serves as the Acting Legal Officer for the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal, a new, fully online tribunal that will begin operations in 2015, handling small claims and condominium disputes. He has helped to initiate multiple projects using Online Dispute Resolution and is a member of the Canadian delegation to the United Nations Working Group on ODR. ... View Mediator