But the true essence and scope of the relationship between ODR processes and the courts hinge on a series of criteria, the most prevalent of these being the definition one chooses to adopt to circumscribe the very notion of online dispute resolution.
If ODR is interpreted broadly as being the use of online environments to facilitate communications and dispute resolution, then it could be argued that ODR has seeped into the Court process through the use of electronic filing and electronic court management systems. However, if we accept the more conventional definition of ODR as being a process that “utilizes the Internet as a more efficient medium for parties to resolve their disputes through a variety of ADR methods”, and that “brings disputing parties together ‘online’ to participate in a dialogue about resolving their dispute”, then ODR has yet to make its way into the court system in any significant manner.
Of course, it could be argued that this goes without saying since, according to some, ODR is merely an online transposition of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) systems and processes, which, as their name clearly states, serve as an alternative to the Court system. Therefore, to talk about Court sanctioned ODR would be akin to stating that the courts could serve as an alternative to themselves, which is somewhat nonsensical. That is not to say that the state cannot incorporate ODR processes and practices in to its arsenal of judicial services, but rather that, according to this approach, the notion of “court-run ODR” seems incongruous.