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Abstract

The momentum behind development of global online fast track low value high volume dispute resolution (hereafter ODR) continues to accelerate. Consumer and business groups around the world are promoting fair, proportionate, effective, online, fast track redress for low value high volume cross border e-commerce disputes. As a result, there will continue to be increasing demand for a variety of effective ODR systems design and procedural rules. Best practices developed by entities like eBay and lessons learned from the work of UNCITRAL Working Group III can be helpful in developing framework models for fast track low value high volume e-commerce ODR systems.

E-commerce ODR systems like eBay’s provide a marketplace for e-commerce as well as an electronic system for fast track resolution of disputes which arise on their e-commerce marketplace. Ordinary ODR systems do not provide an e-commerce marketplace but only provide for resolution of disputes. Accordingly, best practices developed by eBay’s e-commerce ODR system discussed in this article are generally applicable and needed by e-commerce ODR systems, but generally inapplicable and not needed by ordinary ODR systems. This article addresses development by eBay of its highly successful fast track low value high volume e-commerce ODR system by application of the following four best practices:

(i) Low Value Parameters:

Adoption of a generally applicable de facto low value workable monetary “standard” (for example, the Purchase Price “Money Back Guarantee” discussed infra) rather than a “numeric” (i.e. $15,000) monetary description for disputes which are eligible for resolution on the providers’ platforms facilitates global development of fast track low value high volume ODR systems. A $15,000, $10,000 or $5,000 monetary ceiling for low value disputes might constitute low value in a developed economy. It will not in an underdeveloped economy. Hence the need for a low value workable monetary “standard” rather than an unworkable “numeric” monetary description. As indicated, the eBay Purchase Price “Money Back Guarantee” cap on the amount of a permissible claim provides a workable standard in developed and underdeveloped economies.

(ii) Limitation of Types of Claims:

Leaving resolution of disputes involving high value and complicated legal issues to other forums, eBay’s fast track ODR eligibility requirements also limit the complexity and scope of permissible claims (i.e. claims eligible for resolution on its platform) by giving buyers a “Money Back Guarantee,” which, as noted supra, caps the amount a buyer may claim to recovery of purchase price paid, and also limits the types of claims to “Items not received” or “Items not as described.” These limitations on the amount and types of claims permitted facilitate fast track and fair resolution of disputes and enables eBay to handle 60,000,000 e-commerce disputes annually averaging $70-$100 in value.

(iii) Buyers’ On-Demand Access to Automated Trustmark Evaluation/Feedback Information Needed to Identify Reliable Sellers:

Vital to facilitating e-commerce between buyers and sellers, often in different parts of the world and speaking different languages, is developing trust between buyers and sellers to give them the confidence they need to enter into electronic transactions. eBay’s solution to developing this trust between buyers and sellers is the Automated Trustmark Evaluation/Feedback System. This system enables buyers involved in electronically purchasing low value high-volume items to quickly identify on demand a reliable seller without doing extensive research. Buyers seeking to make purchases using the eBay platform are able to assess the reliability of sellers with whom they anticipate doing business based on ratings and feedback derived from performance data supplied electronically by previous buyers after each transaction they completed on the eBay platform.

(iv) Private Enforcement

After discussing (i) Low Value Parameters, (ii) Limitation of Types of Claims, and (iii) Buyers’ On Demand Access to Automated Trustmark Evaluation/Feedback Information Needed to Identify Reliable Sellers, we address (iv) Private Enforcement measures available to enforce settled claims and rulings of neutrals to successfully implement fast track low value high volume e-commerce systems.

 

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