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8 City University of Hong Kong Law Review 73 (2000-2022)


Jurisdictions around the world are increasingly turning to Online Dispute Resolution (‘ODR’) to resolve a variety of disputes. ODR adoption has accelerated primarily because of two reasons. First, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced judicial systems to suspend or severely limit inperson proceedings to control infection rates. Private mediators and arbitrators, likewise, have eliminated or dramatically reduced in-person sessions. Second, judicial systems do not have unlimited !nancial resources. They must always consider ways to provide access to justice as ef!ciently and effectively as possible. ODR may be able to provide signi!cant cost savings. But ODR processes are still new and evolving and much work still needs to be done. The !rst part of this paper explains why we need a clear de!nition of ODR. Along with the great potential ODR offers for improving access to justice, it can also compound existing dangers as well as create new ones. The second part explains how a clear de!nition can help us draft standards that will protect ODR users and suggests what should be included in those standards. Moreover, because an ODR system must be accessible to everyone, the third part explores how ODR accessibility can be guaranteed for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are offered as a critical resource. The !nal part analyses user-protective