Legal and Practical issues on On-Line Arbitration.
Béatrice Fleuris
Mémoire publié en 2002 - 10 pages


In times were the GATT conferences have become headlines on the general news, and are not only reserved to the specialised news, no one cannot be aware that exchanges tend to become global. This globalisation concerns several fields: human first of all, there is no need anymore of a recession or a famine to justify the fact that people cross borders; cultural of course, many people in the world have been able to read the book of the 2000 Nobel prize in Literature Gao Xingjian whereas this book is illegal in his own country; and based upon all of that trade. So, many commercial disputes arise between parties located everywhere on the globe. This globalisation is surely not going to stop, even less to reverse, especially now that there is no need anymore to physically cross borders thanks to information technology.

Indeed, during the last years a technological revolution have been witnessed, the one brought by the Internet. This innovation can even be considered as the most important one since the discovery of printing five centuries ago. The electronic means of communication so created have been quickly adopted by practitioners, and one of the main applications of these innovations has been found in the electronic commerce as practitioners have quickly been aware of the interest of using technological innovations in order to promote and develop their business. Facing the growth of the importance of electronic commerce, there were many reactions to adapt the legal framework of business relations: the UNCITRAL published a Model Law on Electronic Commerce in 1996 , the General Usage for International Digitally Ensured Commerce (GUIDEC) was published by the International Chamber of Commerce in 1997 and the European Union enacted a Directive on electronic commerce in 2000.

In the normal course of daily business affairs, disputes are often inevitable. In this case, arbitration, the "reference of a dispute to one or more impartial persons for final and binding determination" is one of the main dispute resolution procedures used in commercial disputes. Quickly, it showed its limits in resolving disputes relating to electronic commerce, as the new means of communication commonly used in practice were not taken into account by the classical procedure. Also, practitioners were willing to use a procedure more adapted to their business. Based on the classical procedure, using the same basic principles and characteristics, a new type of arbitration procedure appeared that incorporated the innovations brought in the field of information technology: the procedure of on-line arbitration.
The discussion of on-line arbitration has two major themes. The first involves technological issues in order to know if it is possible in practice to conduct an arbitration on-line. The second one involves legal issues, as to the validity of such procedure according to the legal framework of arbitration.
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Béatrice Fleuris

University College of Dublin