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Pre-Online Dispute Resolution Checklist for Clients

If you are experiencing conflict during this time, you may be considering using an Online Dispute Resolution process to help you through. Many courts are not open or are only open for emergencies, and other traditional dispute resolution processes may not be an option given the current health crisis. And yet, conflict continues, and might even be exasperated by self-isolation and social-distancing. So you need a resolution, and you need one now. So what are your options? Online Dispute Resolution is a growing field and many practitioners are putting themselves online to help their clientele get a solution to their conflict during the COVID-19 crisis. But how can you ensure you are still getting a good quality process? Here's a helpful checklist for you if you are thinking about engaging in an Online Dispute Resolution Process:

1. Is the practitioner trained?

Many online services might be less than reputable. Check to make sure the person who is offering Online Dispute Resolution services is trained in the process you are choosing. They may or may not have Online Dispute Resolution specific training, but if they do not, they could still be a good practitioner if they have training in Dispute Resolution. Before you commit to the process, ask questions about the practitioner's experience and training to make sure you will receive a high quality of service.

2. Do you have the right technology to engage in Online Dispute Resolution?

Practitioners are trying to make their services accessible to as many people as possible in this challenging time, but they still might be beyond your reach. If you have a functional smart-phone, computer or tablet, and a secure internet connection, you are probably well equipped to participate in Online Dispute Resolution. If not, check with the service provider to see what other options there might be to still get you service.

3. Is the person you are in conflict with willing to use an Online Dispute Resolution process?

Many people are leery of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes and would prefer to use a more traditional adjudication process, even though that might mean waiting a long time to get a solution. If the person you are in conflict with is hesitate about engaging in Online Dispute Resolution, encourage them that they can still use the services of a lawyer and receive legal advice throughout the process. Also encourage them that this could be a very cost-effective and efficient way to get a solution. If they still are resistant, provide them with as much information as you can and let them think about it. Perhaps in self-isolation they will come around on their own and decide to participate.

4. Does the person you are in conflict with have the right technology to engage in Online Dispute Resolution?

Even if the person you are in conflict with is willing to try an Online Dispute Resolution process, they may not be able to engage in the process if they don't have the right technology. If they have a smart-phone, computer, or tablet and a secure internet connection, they are probably well equipped to participate in Online Dispute Resolution. If not, get them to check with the service provider to see what other options there might be to get you both the service you are needing.

5. Do you have safety concerns?

If you have safety concerns surrounding the conflict you are in, discuss with the Online Dispute Resolution practitioner to see what types of safety precautions and plans you can put in place to protect yourself throughout the process. Your practitioner might also suggest another process or say your situation is not appropriate for Online Dispute Resolution. If your situation is not appropriate for Online Dispute Resolution, you may want to contact a lawyer to see what other options might be available to you.

6. Do you know what type of Online Dispute Resolution process you want to use?

Online Dispute Resolution processes include Mediation, Arbitration, Mediation/Arbitration, and more! The process might be text/written only, audio only, audio/video, or a combination. For guidance on which process might be best for you, consult with various Online Dispute Resolution practitioners to learn what they offer and the style of Online Dispute Resolution they use.

7. Are you able to afford Online Dispute Resolution?

Though Online Dispute Resolution is likely one of the most affordable dispute resolution processes, during this difficult time when many people are struggling with cash-flow concerns, it might be outside your budget right now. Check with your practitioner about how they expect payment and what their fees are so you can ensure you can pay them for their services.

8. Do you have a back-up plan?

Often technology fails us, and if on one of the days you are scheduled to engage in your Online Dispute Resolution process your internet doesn't work or your computer crashes, do you have an alternative? Using your hot-spot on your phone, and switching to another computer or tablet could be viable back-up plans, but be prepared for total failure and have a way to contact your practitioner and the person you are in conflict with to let them know you will be unable to participate.

9. What if you can't make an agreement?

In any conflict resolution process there is uncertainty about results. In court, things can be delayed for weeks, months or even years, leaving you without a solution for a very long time. In other dispute resolution processes, you might run into an impasse which might cause the process to pause or end without a resolution. If you cannot reach an agreement using Online Dispute Resolution or if you cannot get a decision (if you are using an adjudication/arbitration process), what will you do? It is important to consider your worst-case-scenario and plan for how you will handle things moving forward if you can't get an agreement or decision.

10. Is your home well-suited to Online Dispute Resolution?

It is important to have a physical space that will be well-suited to the Online Dispute Resolution process. Ideally, you should have a space with a neutral background that is quiet, free from distractions, and that no one who is not involved in the dispute will accidentally overhear or see something that should be confidential and private. If you have children in your home it is particularly important to make sure that they are protected from overhearing anything that could be upsetting to them. If you can schedule your Online Dispute Resolution sessions while they are napping or asleep that could be a good solution. Chat with your practitioner about ways in which you can make your space suitable for the process and also discuss back-up plans for if someone accidentally walks in when they shouldn't or if an unexpected distraction comes up. Usually Online Dispute Resolution practitioners will have great suggestions on how to set yourself up for success in the process and will be very considerate of any special accommodations you might need.

If you have more questions about engaging in Online Dispute Resolution, please contact us and we would be happy to help you:

We are certified in providing Online Dispute Resolution services and we are trained Family Mediators.

For more information on what services we can offer you, please give us a shout and we would be happy to chat with you: 1-306-321-5378

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