It’s easy to think that the challenges presented by the internet are new, but in fact, we’ve wrestled with similar issues earlier in history.
For example, in Medieval times, most people spent their lives in the same geographic area, learning about the rest of the world second hand from the stories of travelers and traders who had seen the world’s wonders with their own eyes. The exposure to the diversity of the world through trade was a popular diversion, and as a result many cities throughout Europe held huge annual fairs, attracting traders from the Middle East, Russia, and Africa, as well as other European countries. These fairs gave average people a chance to wander through a microcosm of the world’s diversity where the marvels of the globe were on display for all to see.
A thousand years ago, the law was not as developed as it is today. No case law or clearly defined areas of legal jurisdiction. So when a dispute arose among the traders attending these annual fairs there was quite a bit of confusion. What law should be applied to resolve a matter? Most of these traders traveled to different annual fairs in different towns every couple of weeks, and none of the traders were from the particular city where the fair happened to be when the dispute arose. In fact, none of the traders probably knew or cared what the local law was in the particular city anyway. The parties to the dispute could be from different religions and different countries, subject different laws and different rulers. How could such conflicts be resolved?
What evolved to address these types of cases were special institutions called fair courts. Each fair created its own dispute resolution body to resolve commercial matters that arose between the participating traders. The local ruler (Lord, King, whoever) would often select a judge to manage the court, but the juries were always made up of other merchants participating in that particular fair. Over time, these fair courts created their own special commercial law called the Law Merchant. This body of law was transnational, administered by the merchants themselves, speedy (as the traders were soon moving on to the next fair), and based upon fairness as a guiding principle.
The challenges faced at these fairs were very similar to the challenges faced today by merchants on the internet. And in particular the challenges faced in dealing with disputes among traders back then mirror the challenges faced in dealing with internet disputes today. The internet is like an always on, immense international fair, filled with billions of stalls displaying the wonders of the world. And the mechanisms we have put in place to deal with the face-to-face disputes that arise in our cities and towns are about as relevant to disputes on the internet as the laws of a particular city were to the traders at the fairs in Medieval times.
That’s why we created Modria. Spun out from eBay and PayPal in 2011, Modria is dedicated to a simple idea: that disputes of any volume, value, or type can be resolved quickly and fairly with technology. We believe in particular that eCommerce companies, who operate on the scale and at the speed of the internet, require cutting-edge technology to resolve any disputes that arise efficiently and effectively. We build that technology.
At Modria, we embrace these values:
We believe in open and honest communication.
We believe there is always a solution.
We believe in empowering people to resolve problems.
We work every day in pursuit of Fast and Fair Resolutions.
With that in mind, welcome to the Modria Blog. Our goal for these pages is not just to let you know what we’re up to. Yes, you’ll read about launches, new features, where our team is doing public speaking engagements, and our webinar announcements. But we also intend for the Modria Blog to be a marketplace of ideas, insights, data, and best practices around how to resolve disputes online. We aspire to help the world resolve its disputes more effectively, but we know we can’t do it alone. We welcome your participation in the Modria Blog— in fact, we strongly encourage it. We want this to be a channel for us to share our thoughts as well as a channel for us to hear from all of you.
We don’t have all the answers, but together, we’re confident we can make progress toward our goal: providing fast and fair resolutions to disputes around the world.