Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


By all measures, 1995 was a watershed year for the so-called "Information Superhighway." In increasing numbers, individuals, governments, and businesses-including attorneys, their clients, and the courts-are enjoying the expanded use of the burgeoning information and services available on computer networks such as the Internet. As courts and lawyers moved online, it was only natural that the Information Superhighway would ultimately build an "on-ramp" for the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) movement. This indeed occurred late in 1995 with the creation of innovative online ADR projects, several World Wide Web sites related to ADR, and a rapid increase in the use of e-mail in the ADR process.

The benefits that online technology can bring to ADR are considerable (e.g., elimination of time zone differences, always-open ADR Providers, easier scheduling of hearings, various economic benefits, and enhanced conferencing ability). These perceived benefits also raise several challenges that will need to be resolved if online ADR is to succeed (e.g., establishing the "place of hearing" in cyberspace, language in international arbitration, sufficiency and proof of receipt of notice, security of communications, and availability of internet access). The author examines the development and application of online technology to alternative dispute resolution, as well as the perceived benefits and likely challenges presented by the emerging use of online technology to dispute resolution.