Virtual Courthouse...dispute resolution of the future.
Will ever be a real solution to inefficient scheduling process and long wait lists in our court system? Will dispute resolution ever be affordable? Will cases ever be resolved in a reasonable amount of time? These are questions to which many lawyers may well answer, “sure, change may happen eventually - it has to if we are to provide access to justice in a meaningful way - but its not likely to be in my time…change is slow.”
I would have been inclined to agree with that statement, until I came across a link on Twitter this morning to an innovative form of dispute resolution in the US. So today I’m telling the story of a former lawyer and judge in the US who was not willing to wait for the existing courts and dispute resolution mechanisms to change. Instead he decided to take matters into his own hands, and created the Virtual Courthouse.
A virtual courthouse, you say? Yes, it really is real! Complete with online filing of materials, scheduling, and video conferencing, and with access to a registered mediator or arbitrators to assist in resolution of disputes.
Here’s the basics…
The Virtual Courthouse provides an online method of dispute resolution. According to its website the Virtual Courthouse, parties and representatives who want to start a case, simply create an account and enter their information, a brief description of their case, and the opposing parties’ information. The website states: “Then they select 3 or more mediators/arbitrators , rank them and send them to the opposing party along with an invitation to participate in an alternative dispute resolution process through VirtualCourthouse.com. The parties present their case online, schedule a meeting or video conference and use the VirtualCourthouse Secure Confidential asynchronous messaging system.”
Mediators and arbitrators can also offer their services, and have their services marketed through Virtual Courthouse. The website states: “Becoming a registered Mediator / Arbitrator on Virtual Courthouse is fast and simple. Fill out a quick sign-up form, choose your listing level, and fill in your account details. Best of all, Virtual Courthouse goes well beyond neutral listing services and will actually help you process and manage your cases through our proprietary case processing system.”
And what about the fees? The filing fee for each party is $50. And the dispute resolution fee is $300 for an online decision or a one-hour mediation. For longer more complex cases, the mediator or arbitrator’s hourly rate applies. Users are billed online and can pay online.
While it may not work for all cases, it sounds like an AWESOME alternative to me.
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