Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)?
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is a pilot program available for small claims cases filed
on or after December 1, 2020 in the Hartford, New Britain, and Bridgeport Judicial Districts
only. Provided by the Judicial Branch, the pilot program helps parties resolve small claims
disputes in a simple, fast and low-cost way. It can be an alternative to going through the
regular court process, which generally has more complicated procedures and rules, takes a
longer time, and requires you to pursue or defend the claim in court.
2. Do I have to use Online Dispute Resolution for my small claims case?
No. Online dispute resolution is an option that is may be available for small claims cases pending in the pilot locations. You are not required to participate in online dispute resolution but in order to use ODR all parties must agree to participate.
3. Why should I choose Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)?
It's a chance to resolve a legal dispute in a way that reduces the time you would have to take off from work or other obligations for court hearings or trials, simplifies the process of preparing and filing documents and evidence, and increases the chance of a quick resolution of your dispute before trial. You don’t lose any time by participating in ODR since your trial date has already been scheduled.
ODR is also very flexible. You can participate remotely by video-conference or phone without ever having to come to the courthouse.
Because ODR requires both parties to work with a court mediator, you may also be able to reach an agreement that could reduce any harm to your credit and avoid wage garnishments or other collections procedures.
4. How does Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) work?
It's easy; ODR has three steps:
- Step 1: Opt In
If your case is eligible for ODR you will receive a notice about the program from the court. Your case will not be referred to ODR unless all parties agree to participate. Opt in by emailing the court at ODR@jud.ct.gov with your name, the docket number of the case, your preferred email, and phone number. If you are the Defendant in the case, you must also file your answer in order to participate.
- Step 2: Exchange Evidence
Using the information you gave when opting in to ODR, parties will be contacted by the ODR Caseflow coordinator to schedule a remote mediation with a Judicial Branch mediator. You may participate in the mediation session by video-conference or by phone and the Caseflow Coordinator can assist you in determining which option is best for you.
- Step 3: Resolve the Dispute
The court will schedule a mediation with a court mediator to try to settle the disagreement in a way that will work for everyone. You can participate in the mediation by phone or video conference. Your trial date will already be scheduled, so if you are unable to reach an agreement in mediation, you will have a trial on your previously scheduled trial date.
5. Can I participate if I don't have access to a computer?
Yes. You do not need a computer to participate in ODR. You can mail or fax documents to the court if you are not able to file them online and can participate by phone or other available means.
6. What if I change my mind about participating in Online Dispute Resolution?
ODR is an optional voluntary process. Either party can decide to opt-out of ODR by emailing ODR@jud.ct.gov. You’ll just wait for your trial date.
7. What if we work with the mediator but cannot come to an agreement?
If you have participated in mediation but you are unable to reach an agreement, your case will proceed to trial on the date that has already been scheduled by the court.
8. How do I prepare for the mediation?
You should make sure that you have copies of all of the evidence you may need to show in mediation or at trial. You should also decide how you are going to participate remotely in the mediation, and make certain that you have any equipment or information that you need to participate, such as a telephone or computer with internet access. The Judicial Branch has created a Quick Reference Guide for Remote Proceedings to assist parties in preparing for remote proceedings like mediations.