Author:Anthony Connerty
Profession:Barrister and member of WIPO arbitration panel

    "Our belief that cyberspace would not be a harmonious place was based on a very simple observation. Cyberspace seemed to us to be too active, too entrepreneurial, too competitive, and too lucrative a place for it not to have many conflicts. Even in 1996 it was apparent that cyberspace involved too many people applying their creative energies and imaginations in new ways for there not to be a need for processes to settle disputes. Cyberspace was a place where the number of transactions could only grow, and we thought, where transactions and relationships go, disputes will follow.

    "Our assumption that the Internet might become a kind of 'dispute resolution space' and serve as a vehicle for resolving disputes was also based on a rather simple observation. This was that cyberspace was a place where powerful tools were being developed for communicating, storing, and processing information. We knew that these activities were also at the heart of dispute resolution. As capabilities for working with information and managing information online improved, we thought that opportunities for directing these capabilities at dispute resolution would also improve."

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This part of the Manual looks at what may be broadly described as 'online dispute resolution' (ODR) in two areas: international trade and intellectual property.

The specific area of international trade to be considered is documentary credits (or letters of credit), which have been described as the life-blood of commerce. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) operates a system designed to resolve disputes concerning documentary credits speedily and cost-effectively: the Documentary Credit Dispute Resolution Expertise (DOCDEX) system, which was mentioned briefly in the previous chapter.

The specific area of intellectual property to be considered is domain name disputes. The United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has instituted a system to deal with the problem of what is commonly referred to as 'cybersquatting': the abusive registration of Internet domain names.

There are a number of differences between the dispute resolution systems considered here and the systems dealt with in the earlier Parts of the Manual:

* The first and most obvious difference is that the communication systems they rely on can broadly be described as 'electronic'. The ICC DOCDEX system requires communications to be by way of "teletransmission...

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