ResoX is an online dispute resolution platform that seeks to empower businesses in Southeast Asia to resolve their disputes efficiently and cost-effectively.

In this interview, Linda Heng, one of the co-founders of ResoX, shares how the platform works, its advantages over traditional dispute resolution methods, and its potential role in cross-border dispute resolution in the region. She also talks about the challenges of user adoption and how the platform ensures the qualification and reputation of its dispute resolution professionals.

Can you tell us more about ResoX and how it works to provide online dispute resolution services to businesses in Singapore and the Southeast Asia region?

Businesses often struggle to locate appropriate dispute resolution services overseas, as well as navigate the justice system. Businesses also struggle with ballooning costs when embroiled in disputes – in terms of finance, time and reputational loss. 

At first glance, ResoX aggregates a group of diverse dispute resolution professionals (DRPs) and presents them on one platform. It empowers business to triage parameters of their dispute, match them with suitable DRPs, and facilitate contact and engagement easily.

Our next phase of development will see us developing to that of a telemedicine platform, where disputants can meet the next available matching DRP online, allow ResoX to automate an invitation to negotiate or mediate online, and use technology to facilitate alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes seamlessly.

By leveraging on the adoption and familiarity with platform technologies, we hope to bring down the cost and increase efficiency in the event of unpredictable disputes, particularly for small businesses. 

How does ResoX differentiate itself from traditional dispute resolution methods such as litigation and arbitration, and what are the advantages of using an online dispute resolution platform?

Traditional methods of litigation and arbitration rely on the rules of established institutions. Once the case is handed over to the courts, it often takes on a life of its own, dictated by legalese and processes that only lawyers are familiar with. That’s why you see lawyers dragging luggages of paper documents to court, all of which really represent costs borne by disputants.

Online dispute resolution enhances what businesses are already familiar with – the power of negotiations. It may not include a lot of the traditional meet and greet, wining and dining, golf etc. But it certainly accords convenience and empowers business owners to find that neutral, albeit virtual, place to negotiate settlements. 

This may require the help of legal advisors, conflict coaches and facilitators (i.e mediators), but disputants remain fully in the driver’s seat, without ceding control and final judgement to a foreign court of law.  For ResoX, we see it as our mission to normalise ODR for business disputes. We believe ODR helps future-proof unforeseen business disputes, saves time and money, not to mention environmental sustainability (by minimising and digitalising legal documents).

There will always be a place for litigation to determine consequential legal positions and enforce them. There will also be circumstances that necessitates court judgements. But there is a large market segment of businesses who should not get swept onto the path of litigation. To use a medical analogy, you don’t see a brain surgeon the moment you have a headache. You allow a GP to calibrate the symptoms, prescribe early treatments and only escalate wherever necessary. 

In the same vein, ODR can mimic the evolving telemedicine industry. Case in point, I sprained my ankle in Jakarta recently.  In the past, finding medical assistance in a foreign country would be intimidating, but my newfound familiarity with telemedicine platforms like Doctors Anywhere, equipped me with the know-how  to navigate a similar platform in Indonesia. I saw a doctor online and received pain medications at my hotel room within 30 min, at a very reasonable price. The time savings and convenience is unimaginable!

Of course, dealing with disputes is more intense than dealing with a headache or a sprain. But a user-friendly, disputant-led ODR system should lead to significant savings. 

With Southeast Asia’s economy projected to become the fourth largest in the world by 2030, how does ResoX see itself playing a key role in cross-border dispute resolution in the region, and what challenges does it anticipate?

Singapore is well positioned as the regional hub for commercial dispute resolution. We have established and reputable International commercial courts (ICC), International arbitration centres (SIAC) and international mediation centres (SIMC) ready to service cross border disputes.

The market segment that ResoX seeks to serve are the businesses that want to nip disputes early in the bud, and those who may not have the means nor time to approach these institutions. These businesses may also not have the benefit of in-house counsels and are bewildered when considering their options.

Another market segment that ResoX seeks to serve in SouthEast Asia are the disputes arising between consumers and merchants in online marketplaces. We want to see if mediation or crowd-sourced / community justice can resolve disputes on e-commerce platforms in SEA.

The vision is for ResoX to be that easy one stop marketplace that everyone can look for help with dispute resolution (preferably ADR professional and not hard core litigators); then leverage on technology to start an amicable conversation with multiple stakeholders efficiently. 

The biggest challenge is undoubtedly, user adoption. Dispute resolution is a niche sector and it is challenging to be top of mind. This is even more challenging when dispute resolution requires an entire system of multiple stakeholders (ie all the parties and their legal counsels), to adopt and participate willingly. 

But I am optimistic that younger and future generations of business owners will be more inclined to resolve disputes online. Particularly in SEA, ODR will prove to be advantageous in neutralising culture and language challenges present in dispute resolution.

What kind of dispute resolution professionals are available on ResoX, and how does the platform ensure that they are qualified and reputable?

We started with lawyers, mediators, arbitrators and conflict coaches, but could possibly include support professionals in the future (e.g psychologists, accountants etc)

In terms of qualifications, ResoX will function very much like many other consumer platforms like AirBnB, Grab, etc. Some specifics we require would be: 

  • Professional accreditations must be verifiable by external institutions, and best by external reputable websites that verify their professional standing (not self sponsored like LinkedIn). These may include company websites, empanelment on institutions or demonstration of thought leadership with reputable publications.
  • These external website links are included in their profiles for disputants to assess credibility.
  • DRPs are limited to a maximum of 3 areas of specialisation (e.g., intellectual property, construction, finance).  This ensures they are matched with disputants in areas they are already experienced or proficient in, or in areas they want to build a demand for.
  • DRPs have to state their year of accreditation.
  • DRPs are encouraged to state their estimated fee relative to the marketplace (e.g., $,$$,$$$,$$$$).
  • Over time, we will implement user recommendations ratings, which should provide more information for future engagements.

How does ResoX’s native Dispute Advisor work, and what kind of advice does it provide to users seeking dispute resolution services?

Lawyers are trained to advise clients on their legal rights and take down instructions on how to proceed. While not mutually exclusive, negotiators and mediators are more careful to tease out what is really important for the clients and what they eventually hope to achieve. 

ResoX Dispute Advisor is deceptively simple for users in place of a first consultation with lawyers or mediators. It guides disputants to take a broader view of their interests such as the importance of a legal judgement, the time and money it takes to pursue that, the importance of preserving a relationship and importance of confidentiality etc. 

By guiding parties to analyse their needs, the ResoX Dispute Advisor acts as a triage of the pain points and concerns. It helps parties to understand the trade-offs when they instruct lawyers to litigate, and we hope it intuitively guides them towards less confrontational processes. 

Can you discuss the benefits of using online dispute resolution for local businesses, especially those looking to expand their footprint overseas, and how can they tap into these benefits?

Small businesses can ill afford lengthy dispute resolution processes, especially in foreign countries. When embroiled in one, it is far better for parties to issue and receive invitations to negotiate/mediate, than to receive a letter of demand from a lawyer.

Parties can still be represented by legal advisors, but a neutral online platform that offers ease of use should encourage disputants to first pursue amicable means, before turning to aggressive posturing, battling and incurring collateral damage.

It is important to note that ODR does not replace the litigation process, simply a convenient virtual place for detente, still armed but with dispute resolution professionals trained in amicable resolution. 

What is ResoX’s vision for the future of online dispute resolution, and what kind of sophisticated dispute diagnostic tools can users expect in the coming years?

Studies show that the next generation of digital natives increasingly adopt computer mediated analysis and diagnosis. 

  • We want to simplify some of the more intuitive negotiating tools to help less-informed parties understand and strengthen their negotiating power early on in the process. We believe diagnostic tools that Introduce logic and rationality can prevent  unnecessary posturing and misfiring in a dispute.
  • With the advance of AI chatbots like ChatGBT, we hope that disputants who may find it hard to communicate effectively can be equipped to assert their needs by speaking plainly but kindly. This could prevent further deterioration of relationships.
  • Crowdsourced justice is also an area we are exploring for disputes that fall into the public and mass market domains.

Finally, can you speak to the broader significance of online dispute resolution for the legal industry in Singapore and Southeast Asia, and how it is changing the way businesses approach dispute resolution?

ODR has a long way to go in SEA, but with the proliferation of ecommerce, I think SEA is poised to leapfrog in technology adoption. The legal industry is simultaneously undergoing fundamental restructuring in terms of digitalising archaic processes, adopting legal technology and thinking through how they should price their value to clients.

As a mediator, I am often aghast by the destructive journey a business dispute takes the moment it takes on a legalistic overtone. In a mediation, we often have to rewind parties back to their origins of their dispute to remind them of what is truly important and at stake. 

While I am not positioned to speak on the legal industry’s internal development, I think businesses can and must assert the value of convenience and cost-savings. It requires businesses to take more ownership of the dispute resolution journey, and I believe ODR can empower them to do so.

Mark Ko

Mark Ko

Besides tech, I love chicken rice. Point me in the right direction and I'll go and try it. :)
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