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The ‘Fourth’ Party in ODR

The ‘Fourth’ Party in ODR

What is meant by the ‘fourth party’ in ODR?



Full Transcript

There are different levels of how much technology you can incorporate to the way disputes are resolved. The “fourth party’ is a metaphor that refers to the power that technology can add to the dispute resolution process. It can be very, very influential. In addition to the two parties in dispute, the third neutral party, like a mediator, the technology can also assist the parties in disputes to get the conflict settled, resolved. So that’s why it’s referred as the fourth party.


The fourth party, the technology, the platform, could sometimes improve the ways parties communicate by, for instance, suggesting solutions to the parties or identifying issues and basically helping the parties to reach amicable settlement in the terms of the online mediation.


Sometimes the fourth party can replace the third party, but not in the context of online mediation. It’s normally in the context of, for instance, assisted negotiation. Where parties communicate directly amongst themselves, using technology. Another example of technology helping the parties, is when they use blind bidding. This is when the parties submit confidential bids when they have a monetary dispute only about the amount of money.


Some parties place confidential bids or offers to settle, and if these meet, the technology cannot mix the automatic settlement. Both parties have to agree at the midpoint of those bids or offers.


But in the context of traditional mediation, you still need the third neutral party, the mediator, who is using the fourth party, or the technology, to assist in the communications between the parties in dispute.

About the mediator

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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