Impact of Technology on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria and the Birth and Challenges of Online Dispute Resolution (Published)
Technological advancement has impacted every sphere of human endeavours including the dispute resolution space. Dispute is bound to happen between parties in commercial transactions. Traditionally, such dispute was known to be resolved through the adoption of any of the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which requires parties meeting physically at an agreed location. However, the advent of Covid-19 in Nigeria hampered the operation of physical meeting for dispute resolution, hence, the adoption of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) mechanism which is a novel development in Nigeria. It is against this background that this paper seeks to examine how technology may have improved Alternative Dispute Resolution, the origin and challenges of the operation of ODR in Nigeria. This research adopted a qualitative research methodology using doctrinal method of research. It places reliance on library resources. The paper found that there is no specific regulation for the operation of ODR in Nigeria which may pose danger for enforcement ODR agreements or its award. More so, high cost, poor or lack of internet services, inadequate ICT knowledge, poor power supply, amongst others are also potential challenges for smooth operation of ODR in Nigeria. The paper concluded that ODR mechanisms seems to be the most effective means for providing access to justice for online consumer and resolution of disputes without the need for physical contact. It was recommended that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act should be amended to recognise electronic signatures and virtual disputes resolution process and treat issues relating to enforcement of online terms of settlement or agreement.