Would you trust an online court to arbitrate your trading disputes?

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According to a report in the New Scientist, more and more people are turning to online courts to arbitrate in the online disputes that occur from ecommerce.

The main service under the microscope, and there are others, is Swiftcourt based in Sweden. Founded by lawyer Johan Hultgren, he says: “We’re doing more private transactions than we used to do. Since there’s no physical contract, more conflicts will arise and these will be over lower amounts.

Critically, the service permits customers to avoid complex and costly court procedures. But it’s only matched to higher end transactions. Swiftcourt aims to resolve cases with six weeks at a cost of at least 100USD. Perhaps of most importance is the fact that the judgements are then enforceable by debt collection agencies in Sweden.

This could be of benefit to sellers of higher cost items in due course. Imagine a situation where you could refer an eBay case to an independent body in the event of a claim from a buyer. If sellers could trust the arbitrator to actually digest their evidence, it could be a more suitable and successful option in cases of buyer fraud and with dealing with unreasonable buyers.

It seems to me that in the UK right now, such problems that arise can easily fall under both eBay’s own systems and Small Claims. But it could be a new horizon in ecommerce. And if companies did emerge that were reliable, doubtless there could be an opportunity in the UK too. For buyers and sellers.

9 Responses

  1. Interesting process. Rather long-winded and decision by law students!!!! Not convinced although I accept there should be a system. How much would people be willing to pay for a UK system? A percentage? A fixed fee? Who should decide the outcome….a lawyer….an independent mediator?

  2. Adrian,

    Interesting thoughts. The process in itself is of course highly adaptable and flexible to fit specific transaction areas. Although, we do need to ensure the legal process in order to reach the enforceability. In regards to law students, this is as well a flexible choice, where we can adjust the competence needed in relation to the competence asked for. The fee for solving disputes should, in my point of view, be a fixed fee based on the value in question in order to keep it as simple and transparent as possible. Since the process in itself is effective and streamlined, it’s easy to calculate the processing time, i.e. the costs.

    Swiftcourt will soon come to UK and it will be interesting to find out how the buyres and sellers in UK think about Swiftcourt as a tool to do safer transactions.

  3. Couple of years ago I was in dispute with a courier company regarding a lost shipment and it was only after I issued an ultimatum that unless I received full compensation with 24 hours I would commence civil proceeding for recovery and costs.

    I advised that I would be claiming via Money Claim Online (MCOL) which is a HM Courts & Tribunals Service Internet based service for claimants and defendants.

    I knew that I had an extremely strong case and had no concerns about them calling my bluff and would only have threatened civil proceeding if I thought I could win.
    The moment you register a claim there are costs and if you don’t win you could easily find the cost of commencing action being considerably higher than the amount in dispute.

    As it happens the courier company paid up within the hour.

  4. Anything would be fairer than Ebay.

    Even though we could prove the item was delivered, they once refunded a buyer who had used the empty box scam.

    Submitting the posting documentation showing the correct weight made no impact.

    So yeh, anything other than Ebay / Paypal, a court hearing in Sweden, kangaroo court in Australia, or a tribal meeting in Swaziland. All would be improvements.

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