Team ODRWays, an online dispute resolution organisation run by students of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WBNUJS, Kolkata) has won the E-ADR Challenge 2019 set up by HumLab and Vayam. The E-ADR Challenge is part of the Agami Challenges, which are invitations for innovators to develop solutions for specific, clearly-framed problems in the legal sector. The Challenge invites innovators and practitioners to set up an institution that will offer e-arbitration services and will be an online aggregation platform for providers of mediation and conciliation. A jury comprising former Supreme Court judge, Justice BN Srikrishna, Ashoka Fellow Sonali Ojha, Vineet Rai of Aavishkaar Ventures, Amit Sharma of ShopX, and Sanjay Purohit of Societal Platforms gathered at the Mumbai office of Trilegal to decide which team shall build and lead the institution. The Challenge was launched in February this year and 16 teams from around the world, including the USA, UK, Brazil, and the Middle East applied for it. Following discussions and deliberations, the jury selected Team ODRways- run by NUJS final year students Pranjal Sinha and Akshetha Ashok and software engineer Vikram Kumar- that has done remarkable work in pushing for the adoption of alternate dispute resolution methods and leveraged technology to bring together ADR professionals, disputants as well as key ecosystem stakeholders for the adoption of effective resolution tools. And thus is well positioned to anchor the building of this institution. The jury will now work to support ODRWays to develop itself through collaborations and the appropriate mentorship into an institution that can bring a suite of dispute resolution capabilities to businesses and society, and ultimately help reduce the pressure on the courts. This initiative is supported by a wide range of highly credible collaborators: Concept and Challenge Partner ICICI Bank, Ecosystem Partner Trilegal, Expert Partner Centre for Advanced Mediation Practice (CAMP), and Thought Partners Ashoka India and Omidyar Network IBM India and Google Cloud are Technology Support Partners for the Challenge and offering resources, consultations and credits.
To take the initiative forward, ICICI Bank has committed to referring 10,000 of its disputes to this E-ADR institution. Commenting in a press release, ICICI Group General Counsel Pramod Rao said, “In India’s current context, with the judiciary being overburdened and understaffed, the disputants clearly need cost-effective, speedier solutions. Exploring alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in this context, bolstered by the policy level support/changes in Arbitration Act, the advent of both bandwidth and technology, and finally availability of legal talent in good numbers, makes it an excellent platform for the society, corporates and consumers alike to explore and benefit from.” Partner and Head of Disputes at Trilegal Sitesh Mukherjee said, “Court dockets are overburdened in dealing with public law issues, even as governments and regulators all over the globe are in expansionary mode. Arbitrations have become increasingly expensive and hence more suited for high value and complex disputes. Both these traditional modes of dispute resolution have become somewhat unsuitable for millions of individuals and small businesses who are transacting with each other sitting in different parts of the globe, sometimes on cloud based trans-national platforms. Alternate dispute resolution platforms could be designed to meet the needs of this huge segment of B2B and B2C transactions. Such ADR platforms must be cost effective as well as efficacious.” Founder of HumLab Sachin Malhan had earlier revealed to Bar & Bench the idea behind the E-ADR Challenge. “The idea behind the challenge is to build a scalable platform for dispute resolution that can tap pools of arbitrators and mediators and can even offer some kind of technology-aided resolution. It is a bit like the Uber of dispute resolution. We also want to spur the creation of new classes of dispute resolution professionals.” About ODRways ODRways is a startup by two young law students Pranjal Sinha (Delhi), Akshetha Ashok (Bangalore), and a software engineer, Vikram Kumar (Kolkata) which aims to change the way disputes are resolved in India. Started in 2015, ODRways has 96 working mediators in 21 cities across India and is recognized by Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, in the list of top 10 mediation centers of India. They were also recognized by Google as the 'Socially Most Innovative Platform of 2015'. In the last 12 months, ODRways handled more than 1500+ disputes in India ranging from small stake consumer disputes to family matters to 400 crore worth mining disputes. Recognition from United States of America In March, 2018. JAMS International, the largest ADR center in world based in California recognized the efforts of ODRways and awarded Pranjal Sinha, Co-founder of ODRways, the JAMS Weinstein Fellowship worth 15000$, which allows him to attend mediation training programme at Harvard Law School and work towards promoting mediation in India! Indian Mediation Week- Changing Mindset-From “Tareekh par Taareekh” to “Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se” In order to tackle the “see you in court” mindset in India, ODRways organize Indian Mediation Week (IMW), a pan India mediation awareness campaign themed on Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se , in collaboration with National University of Juridical Sciences Kolkata (NUJS). The aim of the campaign is to sensitize the general public about the benefits of mediation, and that if they any dispute in life, they should try taking help from a mediator before going to court. In the last 2 years, this awareness campaign has spread to 102 cities across India with more than 2000+ volunteers across the country. More than 2000 mediation awareness drives have been conducted sensitizing more than 5 lakh people about the process of mediation.. ODRways has resolved 1600+ inquiries across the country, converting 250+ into mediations and has resolved 100+ cases in less than 6 months. Judge, Politicians, Cricketers to lawyers from Australia, USA, Japan join the Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se campaign! The campaign is supported by Ministry of Law and Justice Government of India, and Hon’ble Justice Madan Lokur, Supreme Court Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee. They have also been endorsed by the former Law Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid, the Hon'ble Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur as well as K.N Tripathi, Governor of West Bengal and Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar. In 2018, M.P, Lok Sabha, Shashi Tharoor, and famous Indian cricket commentator, Harsha Bhogle also joined the "Suljhao Magar Pyaar Se" campaign. The campaign received international recognition from luminaries including Mr. Daniel Erdmann, Founder of World Mediation Organization, Thomas Valenti from Valenti Law, Rahim Shamji from ADR-ODR London to Young Mediators Initiative of International Mediation Institute (IMI) along with Mediators in South Korea, Australia, USA etc. The 3rd edition of Indian Mediation Week will be from 9th December, 2019-15th December, 2019. If you want to contribute to this mediation awareness campaign, drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, you can call on their helpline number (+91-9773942943) or check-out www.odrways.com or www.indianmediationweek.com.