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Abstract

The author discusses the Internet's potential equalizing effect on dispute resolution institutions. The emergence of online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanisms and virtual courts are the clearest manifestation of the Internet's influence on dispute resolution, but its influence extends beyond the immediate online environment, as is demonstrated throughout the Article by analyses of various examples and the specific case study of the Ford-Firestoned ebacle. The Ford-Firestones tory provides a rich case study for the positive potential as well as the pitfalls of resolving disputes in the nascent Internet society, and it is especially useful for dispelling the notion that the Internet will only affect technology-related disputes. The author analyzes dispute resolution institutions (courts and ADR mechanisms) as they currently exist and as they are likely to develop in the future. The Article's prediction and main thesis is that as a result of the introduction of new technologies, traditionally disempowered disputants could potentially experience greater equality in the dispute resolution institutions of the Internet society. The Article concludes with a demonstration of how disputes similar to the Ford-Firestone case study will be played out in the landscape of the future.

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