, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 207-232
Date: 13 Jun 2006

Legitimacy and the Virtualization of Dispute Resolution

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For any type of institutionalized dispute resolution, legitimacy is a crucial characteristic, as legitimate dispute resolution promotes, for instance, general trust in state institutions and participation in economic activity. A lack of legitimacy will prevent the acceptance of dispute resolution, and thereby its use. Although many textbook definitions limit the meaning of legitimacy to legality, in its every-day use legitimacy is in fact a much broader concept. It encompasses different criteria relating to the nature of dispute resolution: is a form of dispute resolution properly embedded in a reliable institutional environment?, and: are its outcomes properly underpinned? Virtualization concerns the ways in which information and communication technologies affect administration, communication, accessibility and assessment. As an example of virtualization in dispute resolution, a scenario about on-line feedback is scrutinized. This scenario comprises the implementation of a feedback system to enable participants in an instance of dispute resolution to comment on various aspects of the dispute resolving process.