WIPO calls for Web dispute resolution
New means of dispute resolution are needed for e-commerce to reach its potential, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).
A two-day International Conference on Dispute Resolution in Electronic Commerce, which opened on Monday in Geneva, heard from Francis Gurry, WIPO Assistant Director General, that electronic commerce presented a series of challenges and opportunities for dispute resolution.
"The digital economy is introducing profound structural change in the provision of dispute resolution services", said Gurry.
He noted that traditional arbitration had a small number of providers, while today electronic commerce has spawned a significantly larger number of dispute resolution service providers, thereby giving users wider choice.
"Today, users benefit from competition among the dispute resolution providers," Gurry said.
Gurry welcomed the presence at the Conference of representatives from other dispute resolution providers in the area of electronic commerce, namely: the American Arbitration Association, CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, eResolution, the International Chamber of Commerce and Square Trade.
The Conference is organised by the WIPO, which is famous for domain name dispute resolution, in co-operation with world-wide resolution providers, and will provide an opportunity for the more than 250 participants to look at changes in alternative dispute resolution (arbitration and mediation) brought about by the technological advances which have sparked the e-commerce revolution.
"Whether the question is the protection of domain names, transactional security, the establishment and use of crypto-secured digital identities, or any other issue arising in the context of electronic commercial transactions, the need for efficient and effective dispute resolution cannot be overstated," said keynote speaker, Yves Fortier, President of the London Court of International Arbitration.
He added that any arbitrator will be required to adapt traditional notions regarding such concepts as "assets" or "value" to the intangible realm in which untold billions of dollars worth of business is transacted today.
Meanwhile, in Brussels new legislation before the EU Council of Ministers could reverse gains made under the recently adopted e-commerce directive, according to the Sunday Business Post.
Under the e-commerce directive, a company based in one EU state and providing services conforming with the law in that state can promote and provide those same services electronically in other member states without having to comply with domestic rules in those states. This means that a company based in Ireland can engage in direct marketing to French and German consumers without having to comply with the rules on advertising in those countries.
However, the paper warns these gains are now being endangered through attempts by some countries, such as France and Belgium, to obtain certain exemptions.