Center for Conflict Resolution

Serving Los Angeles County

Frequently Asked Questions

What is online dispute resolution (ODR)?

Online Dispute Resolution, or ODR, is an online platform that uses electronic communication over cell phones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices to allow disputants to attempt resolution without having to go into court. With the use of ODR by the Center for Conflict Resolution, we are able to connect individuals with a mediator from the start. This offers all of the benefits of working with a mediator in court, but prior to your court date so that we can hopefully help you reach a resolution during the time you would normally be waiting for that court date to roll around.

As CCR wants to remain as helpful as possible, we acknowledge that implementing ODR satisfies two long-term goals when it comes to conflict resolution and the courts:

  1. to promote the use of innovation and effective problem-solving courts and alternate dispute resolution processes;
  2. and to modernize court processes through automation and expanded self-service options for court users. ODR also implements the judicial branch’s vision that justice in [jurisdiction] will be accessible, fair, effective, responsive, and accountable. ODR allows the courts to provide a variety of dispute resolution methods, is a convenient process in which the dignity of every person is respected while resolving cases in a timely manner which uses public resources efficiently and in a way the public can understand.

Why mediate?

Mediation is the final chance you and the other party has to resolve your case on your own terms. It allows you to be a part of the decision and prevents a judgement being made if a case is settled via mediation. Parties can get creative and find real solutions that work for everyone. Online Dispute Resolution allows you the flexibility to try to settle your matter on your own time with a mediator, quickly and easily online, all without going to court.

How does ODR work?

When a case (small claims, unlawful detainer, or civil harassment) is filed, the plaintiff (the person who brings the lawsuit) and the defendant (the person being sued) may receive information on the option to voluntarily try to mediate via Online Dispute Resolution. One of the parties can then come to the ODR website and complete registration which allows them to request the other party join them. Once both parties (the plaintiff and defendant) have joined the ODR platform and agreed to try mediation, the process can begin. Mediation allows for a designated neutral to help both parties try and come to a resolution. If they are able to reach an agreement, documentation is automatically generated with the decided upon terms and then sent to be signed by both parties. Following signatures and acceptance of the agreement, CCR then assists in getting the agreement filed with the court. If no agreement is reached, then parties still have the opportunity to attend their day of hearing to present their case before the judge.

In a similar fashion, ODR also helps support community mediations, or conflicts that arise but are not filed in court. The process overall is similar, aside from the contact with the court.

Am I required to use ODR?

At this particular time, ODR and mediation remain a completely voluntary option.

Is there a fee for participation?

Currently there is no fee for a filed case wishing to try ODR mediation (small claims, unlawful detainer, and civil harassment associated with a case number). However, community mediations (anything outside of the courts) will be subject to review. Please contact CCR for further information.

Do I need an email account to participate?

Yes, you do. If you do not have an email account, free accounts are available at:

What happens if I do not have a computer or phone with internet access?

The CCR ODR structure works on any mobile device that can access the internet, so if you do not have a computer, it is possible to complete the process from your mobile device. Computers with internet access are usually available at your local public library. Ensuring you have a phone number on file will also allow you to receive updates on any of the ODR happenings.

Do I need a lawyer to participate?

No, you do not need a lawyer to participate in ODR. If you have a lawyer, the lawyer can participate in ODR for you or with you, whichever you choose.

How does the ODR process start once I agree to use it?

Once you have accessed the ODR platform and agreed to participate, you will follow the prompts on the screen. A mediator will be assigned to your case and will reach out to introduce themselves and advise on how the process works.

What happens if I agree to use ODR and the other party does not?

Unfortunately, in ODR mediation we need both parties to voluntarily agree to use ODR. If the other party does not agree, you will then follow the procedures that the court has provided to you (ie attend your day of court hearing)

If I agree to use ODR and do not like it, can I stop the process?

Yes, ODR mediation is voluntary at every stage. You can choose to conclude your participation without penalty from the court.

Am I penalized for opting out of ODR after agreeing to try it?

No, the court does not penalize you if ODR mediation is unsuccessful.

Is ODR confidential?

ODR communications will not be shared with the court. However, there is only statutory confidentiality for the communications made in mediation.

Who participates in ODR?

The ODR mediation includes the parties listed in the lawsuit (plaintiff/defendant) and their attorneys (if there are any), as well as the mediator. From time-to-time there may also be a co-mediator, an observer (mediator in training) or a CCR administration. If any of these additional people participate in the mediation, their presence and duties will be made clear to all participants.

Can I reject an offer I do not think is fair?

Yes, you can. You are under no obligation to accept any offer. This is also another positive to having a mediator involved as they are there to help facilitate any back and forth or concerns over an offer.

Who is the mediator and what role do they play?

The mediator is a trained, experienced neutral third party who will assist you in trying to find an agreeable help you and the other party find a solution to your problem. The mediator will not act as an advocate or attorney for either party and will not give any legal advice or decide the outcome of your case.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process in which a neutral third person, a mediator, aims to facilitate the parties towards a resolution of their dispute. It is an informal and autonomous process with the objective of the mediator being to help the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision-making authority rests with the parties. The role of the mediator includes, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying issues, fostering joint problem solving, and exploring settlement alternatives.

What is confidentiality and where does it come into play in mediation?

Coming soon.

What happens if we reach agreement?

If agreement is reached, it is automatically generated with all of the specified stipulations and provided to both parties to sign. CCR then assists in filing the settlement agreement with the courts. The agreement is not confidential.

Is the agreement legally enforceable?

Yes, small claims agreements that are reached are submitted as 'dismissed without prejudice’ which means that if the terms of the agreement are not met, the plaintiff can then bring that agreement and original case back to the court for review and judgement. . This will be outlined on all small claims agreements.

NOTE: Unlawful Detainer and Civil Harassment resolutions follow a different process which your mediator will advise on should you reach an agreement.

What is the difference between a case being dismissed with or without prejudice?

Coming soon.

What happens if someone violates the agreement, for example, does not make payments as promised?

Consequences and enforcement language are included in the agreement. The terms of the agreement will dictate what happens if parties do not fulfill their obligations.

Where can I find additional resources if I am still not sure about what ODR is, how it works, or if it will work for my conflict?

For additional resources, please visit or please feel free to send any questions to

I am not that familiar with legal terms, where can I get further explanation or information on the legal things I don’t know?

For a list of legal terms and/or resources, please visit .

How do I access my conversation space?

You first need to be logged in to the ODR site in order to access your conversation space. Once logged in, you will see three tabs. One of them will be labeled Conversations. Click on the Conversations tab and it will place you in the conversations space where you will meet your mediator and they will begin the mediation process. can engage with the other party and the mediator.

Who can see my "conversation" in the mediation space?

The mediation space is private to you, the other party, the mediator and the system administrator. No one else has the ability to view your conversation. With very limited exceptions, such as threatening harm to another person, all discussions are confidential and cannot be used in court.

There may be a time when you would like the mediator to know something that you don't want to share with the other party. In this that case, the ODR site allows you to communicate privately with the mediator, who will keep this information confidential. You can have a private conversation with just the mediator by clicking on the "[your name] +Mediator" tab.

How do I prepare for ODR?

Participants generally find that mediation is more useful when they're prepared and have a plan. Having a plan means that you’ve identified your goals, assessed what the other party’s goals might be, and considered several possible settlement options that might work for you, as well as the other party. Thinking through these things in advance will help you and the other participant reach an agreement that works for everyone.

How do I respond to an offer?

When a party sends you a settlement offer, it’s up to you to decide if you want to accept or reject the offer. If the offer works for you, you can accept it and move on to the next screen.

If the offer doesn't work for you, it’s best to reply with an explanation of why it doesn’t work for you. Just saying "no" doesn't help to continue the negotiating process come up with something better and will probably cause end the conversation to end. You can then will be able to make a counter-offer that you feel does may address your needs. Again, offering some explanation is usually helpful.

How do we make sure our agreement works?

It’s always helpful to think through terms that might be important in carrying out your agreement. Know that the mediator is there to help you come to an agreement that is as specific as possible as well as manageable so that the terms can be upheld. Here are some terms that you might consider:

Will the mediator give me legal advice?

No, but it's a good idea to know what your legal rights are before mediating.

What if I change my mind after signing an agreement?

Signed agreements are considered binding contracts, so you never enter into one that you do not plan to see through. For almost all mediated agreements, we enter them back into the court as ‘dismissed without prejudice’ and the court will retain jurisdiction under CCP 664.6. which means that should the terms of the agreement not be met, the case can be brought back before a judge.