Universiteit Leiden

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'A breakthrough in thinking on dispute resolution'

On 27 June 2017, Daniel Dimov will defend his PhD dissertation “Crowdsourced Online Dispute Resolution”. The defence will commence at 16.15 hrs, in the Academy Building of Leiden University, Rapenburg 73. The supervisors are Professor H.J. van den Herik and Professor A.R. Lodder.

Proliferation of online disputes

Nowadays, e-commerce companies need to resolve a large number of disputes related to sales of goods and services (e.g., eBay has to resolve around 60 million disputes per year). Search engines and social networking websites assess and decide on a considerable number of complaints related to privacy, trademarks, copyright, and defamation. Similarly, the inhabitants of virtual worlds generate a substantial amount of unique online disputes, such as disputes related to virtual property and avatars.

The response of the legal community

The legal community (e.g., legislators, lawyers, and law professors) quickly noticed the potential avalanche of online disputes and proposed a solution, namely, online dispute resolution (ODR). This was intended to resolve disputes in a more cost-efficient manner than its offline counterpart. However, ODR was not radical enough to address the challenges posed by the Internet. ODR appears to be merely offline dispute resolution camouflaged under the disguise of modern technologies. It works in a similar manner, namely, the disputants submit their dispute to a professional who resolves it. That is why it is not surprising that many dispute resolution specialists admitted that ODR has not achieved the success it was expected to achieve.


The story of ODR teaches us to differentiate between speculative solutions from actual solutions. The difference between the two is that, in comparison with the former, the latter do achieve the intended result. In Biblical words: “By their fruit you will recognize them.” Although crowdsourced online dispute resolution (CODR) is one of the newest forms of dispute resolution, it has gained tremendous success. For example, Taobao User Dispute Resolution System resolved 238,000 online-shopping disputes in 2013 and attracted more than 575,000 crowd jurors from December 2012 to July 2014. To compare, in the second quarter of 2014, English courts dealt with just 11,100 civil (excluding family) hearings or trials. The difference between Taobao User Dispute Resolution System and the English court system lies not only in the number of cases which each of them resolves, but also in the fact that the jurors participating in the Chinese CODR procedure do not get any remuneration.

The PhD research

The PhD dissertation can be regarded as the first comprehensive study of CODR. After an introductory chapter, it reviews literature on crowdsourcing, ODR, and crowdsourced online dispute resolution. Next, the dissertation analyses existing CODR procedures and establishes a framework for CODR. Subsequently, it constructs an interpretation of procedural fairness, examines the procedural fairness of CODR procedures, and proposes a model of a fair CODR procedure.

Supervisor Prof.dr. H.J. van den Herik about Daniel Dimov

In Crowdsourced Online Dispute Resolution Daniel Dimov has achieved a breakthrough in thinking on dispute resolution. Dimov’s dissertation provides a clear answer to the question of the role of ODR in the judicial system. It should be Crowdsourced ODR. His dissertation shows the developments occurring in  law and information technology: CODR is cheap, fast, democratic and fair. Daniel Dimov has demonstrated tremendous tenacity in combining his ideas on CODR with our interpretation of objective procedural fairness.