As with any new technology, the boom of ODR services in Europe over the past decade has nevertheless been accompanied by some delay in achieving its full potential, possibly as a result of an of underestimation by its original pioneers of the marketing effort and investment required to attract adequate numbers of early adopters. While ODR services rose to thirty-eight sites in 2004, some of them were no longer, even at that time, providing services. In addition, it has to be borne in mind that a review of the list shows that many were well established, and still continuing, ADR organizations or business associations who were at that time simply engaged initiatives to examine the future that technology could offer rather than launching a committed and specific ODR service.
Since 2004, Europe has, notwithstanding, continued to be not only at the forefront of ODR development and usage but also a leading centre for ODR research and discussion. At present, the current state of the art of ODR in Europe constitutes an opportunity to instill realism into the enthusiastic forecasts whilst still making significant progress with making ODR services the default systems to resolve online disputes as well as colonizing off-line domains.
This paper offers an overview of the present situation of ODR in Europe and discusses effective development of ODR deployments to handle online, offline, national and cross-border disputes in Europe. To do so, we proceed by first defining the scope of ODR and reviewing existing services. We then continue by analyzing the major challenges faced by ODR in Europe and finally conclude by suggesting some future scenarios.