Online Dispute Resolution: An Indian Perspective

E-commerce is growing at a fast speed in India as India is seen as a producing a sizeable and profitable market for e-commerce business. However, e-commerce laws in India are still not clear to most of the e-commerce entrepreneurs. As a result most of the e-commerce websites are not following the laws of India and are inadvertently (without knowledge) violating the laws of India. Regulatory authorities of India have started questioning the operations of e-commerce websites of India and many of them are facing potential legal actions.
The tussle is not merely between the regulatory authorities and e-commerce website owners but it also extends to disputes between e-commerce websites and their consumers. Most of the consumers are not aware about their digital rights while dealing with such e-commerce companies and websites. At the same time there is lack of forums and dispute resolutions platforms for digital consumers in India where they can agitate their claims. In short, e-commerce dispute resolution in India is still to be managed by Indian Government.
With the rapid development of the Internet and electronic commerce, dispute resolution mechanisms are needed to help resolve disputes between parties located anywhere in the world in a manner that is fair, expeditious and cost effective. ADRs are evolving with new technologies, making it possible to solve a dispute through electronic mechanisms of which Online dispute resolution (ODR) has been labelled “a logical and natural step” for the resolution of disputes that arise on the Internet without the physical presence of the parties involved.
This paper presents the ODR phenomenon with a specific focus on policy-making and regulatory problems in India. It argues that the current regulatory framework for online dispute resolution is, to a large extent, defective. Existing deficiencies result not only from a lack of comprehensive ODR law, but also from the weaknesses of the other modalities of regulation: market, norms and technology. Arguably, the current “hands-off” approach to regulating ODR has been unsuccessful, and it is time to re-examine that position.