Abstract

The enforcement of outcomes in online dispute resolution (ODR) is a delicate problem. Since disputes arising out of e-commerce transactions are typically low in value, the traditional channels of coercive enforcement are often not a viable option. The article argues that the Bitcoin system can be used as a source of inspiration to devise new models of self-enforcement. The article describes the legal framework of ODR and argues that the goal of self-enforcement can be attained through the use of technology. It then describes the relevant features of the Bitcoin system, underlining its potential as a new forum for the expression of private autonomy. It then investigates the features of Bitcoin adjudication, before arguing that Bitcoin must be regarded as an original and self-contained system of dispute resolution, whose characteristics can be used to theorise new models of self-enforcement. Next, it compares four alternative models of self-enforcement, two of which take Bitcoin adjudication as an example. Finally, it puts forth recommendations for all actors involved in the implementation of self-enforcing ODR mechanisms and argues that different models should be left free to compete.

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