Small claims court on the net.

Small claims court on the net.

I came across this web site the other day. judge.me, which allows two parties to enter into a legally binding contract over the internet.  Designed for small companies (usually individual consultants offering remote services) that do not have the wherewithal to remedy contract disputes with expensive lawyers fees.

Furthermore, the service is free to enter into a contract.  You only pay if you have to resolve a dispute…. and the fee is very reasonable, 150 USD per party.  The site claims it is valid in 146 countries, remains to see if they will be able to resolve a dispute in an Indian court…. good luck with that.

I spotted 2 relevant Qs in their FAQ for our readers,

Is Judge.me arbitration binding, and if so, how?Yes, judge.me arbitration is binding because both parties commit to being bound by the arbitration award at least once. That is, all our users sign our arbitration agreement during case filing (i.e. after dispute arises), but smart users also put our arbitration clause in the contracts they signed (i.e. before the dispute arises).

How is a judge.me decision enforced?After the judge.me arbitrator has decided the case (“rendered his award”), both parties are bound to make each other whole again. Statistically, 96% of the arbitration awards are honored, meaning the losing party makes a payment or delivers goods or services to the prevailing party as ordered by the arbitrator within the set time limits (most commonly 30 days).
However, in the 4% of awards that are not honored, the prevailing party must seek to enforce the award by asking a court where the losing party has assets to turn the arbitration award into a court judgment, upon which the judge can then issue a fieri facias (“fi fa” in short), which is an order to the local sheriff to seize enough property of the losing party to make the prevailing party whole again, as well as to (typically) cover the court costs incurred by the entire process of enforcement. (This is why 96% of losing parties pay immediately: Not complying will most likely only incur more court expense for them and cause embarrassment from a forced property seizure.)
Either party may also ask a court to recognize the arbitration award to prevent the other party from filing a lawsuit for the same dispute in that jurisdiction. Please note that the court should drop the lawsuit once you as defendant show them the dispute has already been arbitrated. Recognition of an award is simply a quicker and less costly prevention strategy for when you think the opposing party is likely to file a lawsuit against all odds.

Interestingly, the .me domain is that of Montenegro…. makes for a nice catchy site address.

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