Would you trust an online court to arbitrate your trading disputes?

According to a report in the New Scientist, more and more people are turning to online courts to arbitrate in the online disputes that occur from ecommerce.

The main service under the microscope, and there are others, is Swiftcourt based in Sweden. Founded by lawyer Johan Hultgren, he says: “We’re doing more private transactions than we used to do. Since there’s no physical contract, more conflicts will arise and these will be over lower amounts.

Critically, the service permits customers to avoid complex and costly court procedures. But it’s only matched to higher end transactions. Swiftcourt aims to resolve cases with six weeks at a cost of at least 100USD. Perhaps of most importance is the fact that the judgements are then enforceable by debt collection agencies in Sweden.

This could be of benefit to sellers of higher cost items in due course. Imagine a situation where you could refer an eBay case to an independent body in the event of a claim from a buyer. If sellers could trust the arbitrator to actually digest their evidence, it could be a more suitable and successful option in cases of buyer fraud and with dealing with unreasonable buyers.

It seems to me that in the UK right now, such problems that arise can easily fall under both eBay’s own systems and Small Claims. But it could be a new horizon in ecommerce. And if companies did emerge that were reliable, doubtless there could be an opportunity in the UK too. For buyers and sellers.