BTB Dispute Settlement Guidelines Gain Steam

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Several major corporations have signed on to new guidelines for managing e-commerce business-to-business disputes.


By adopting the American Arbitration Association's E-Commerce Dispute Management Protocol, companies can resolve disputes quickly and get back to business, the AAA said.


"Setting a global standard will give practitioners the necessary confidence and trust in online transactions to be successful in BTB e-commerce," said William K. Slate II, president/CEO of the AAA.


Debi Miller-Moore, the association's vice president, added, "This will help increase the confidence of people doing business online in the BTB space. Trust is a big issue."


Initial corporations signing on to the protocol include AT&T, Daimler Chrysler AG, FedEx Corp., Microsoft, Wells Fargo & Co. and Pepsico.


The protocol was necessary to educate corporations involved in the $1.2 trillion BTB e-commerce market, according to Slate.


Companies that aim to profit from the growing marketplace need to learn to avoid the pitfalls of protracted court battles that can last years and cost billions, he said.


Dispute resolution will also become more common as the market jumps to an estimated $4.8 trillion by 2004.


"With more companies than ever entering this arena, business disputes are inevitable and threaten to disrupt the continuity of the BTB supply chain," according to the AAA.


The protocols, which will be developed more fully this quarter, include:


• Fairness. All businesses should have access to neutral dispute resolution providers.


• Continuity of business. The promise of e-commerce is to speed efficiency, according to Miller-Moore, but if that system is disrupted by disputes, companies lose value. "There has to be an agreement that business will continue, even with a dispute," she said.


• Clear dispute management policies.


• Range of options. "We encourage the use of a variety of cost-effective methods to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage," according to the AAA.


• Commitment to technology. The AAA is developing a technology platform that will provide systems and services to help speed the resolution of e-commerce disputes.

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