ODR Pilot Project Review.
Access to justice within the civil justice system has been a decades-long concern for state and local courts. In small claims cases, where both self-represented litigants and default judgements are common, courts have taken various approaches to ensure access and fairness. The most recent development in state court responses is the use of online dispute resolution (ODR), consisting of an internet-based software platform allowing litigants to negotiate a settlement to their cases or, if negotiations fail, exchange information and relevant evidence to narrow the factual and legal issues to be decided in a formal court hearing. Utah became one of the first states to begin exploring ODR as an access-to-justice solution and officially launched its ODR pilot program in September 2018.
In collaboration with NCSC staff, an evaluation framework was developed to assess the appropriateness, efficacy, and sustainability of the Utah ODR program and the following program objectives were identified:
• Reduce default rates
• Decrease litigant costs
• Decrease the access to justice gap due to socioeconomic status
• Increase settlement rates
• Decrease post-judgment enforcement actions
• Increase satisfaction of judgments
• Equalize the burden of litigation on first-time parties versus repeat parties
• Promote litigant satisfaction with case outcomes
• Promote litigant perceptions of procedural justice
• Decrease court costs