I was very honoured to speak at the VIIIth Asia-Pacific Mediation Conference that took place last Monday at Chung-Ang University in Seoul.
This year, we discussed The Increase of Conflicts and Challenges in Mediation bringing together views from different institutions in Korea and also from the UK, India, the US and confronted the practice of mediation in Korea, Europe and Latin America. The position of different countries on the Singapore Convention, the measures for promoting international and domestic mediation as well as ethics and competence were topics of the three sessions that nourished our thoughts during this annual conference.
I had the pleasure to brush the outlines of the EU Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) put in place by the Directive 2013/11 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes. Since its implementation in 2016, the EU consumers can solve swiftly and at low costs disputes with e-traders on contract issues such as late deliveries, non-conformity of goods or services, etc.
However, consumer ODR faces several challenges, among which the consumer’s and trader’s confusion due to the plethora of ODR platforms, the lack of transparency of platforms run by private marketplaces, the potential discrimination in solutions crafted by uncontrolled algorithms when the platforms are run by machines. GDPR provides for the revision of unmanned decisions by the administrators of ODR platforms on consumer’s demand, but with the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) such protection may not suffice. The AI Act that the EU Institutions will soon enact will hopefully provide clear principles overarching the technology used by platforms issuing e-decisions. The recent Commission Proposal for a new Directive amending Directive 2013/11 will further buttress consumer’s rights against traders from outside of the EU and repeal Regulation 524/2013 which put in place the initial consumer ODR mechanisms and the EU ODR platform.
The event was co-hosted by Korea Society of Mediation Studies, the Ministry of Justice, the National Assembly Research Service, the Korea Consumer Agency and Chung-Ang University Legal Institute. My gratitude goes to Professor Lee Jewoo, Assistant Professor at Kangnam University for his kind invitation.