Group offers B2B dispute-resolution guidelines

The American Arbitration Association (AAA), with backing from Microsoft Corp., AT&T Corp., FedEx Corp. and 15 other companies announced Wednesday a set of proposed guidelines for resolving business disputes between corporations that are engaging in B2B e-commerce transactions with each other.

The e-commerce dispute management protocol is a prelude to the planned launch of a technology-focused arbitration service by the New York-based AAA. The not-for-profit organization said details of the service would be announced soon.

The single-page protocol sets out a series of principles for companies to follow when disputes related to business-to-business activities arise. For example, the protocol says disputes should be isolated and resolved “with minimal disruption to other transactions” and calls for adherents to “clearly identify and support the mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of disputes.”

The protocol “is an educational wake-up call,” said William Slate II, the AAA’s president and CEO. He added that the adoption of dispute-resolution standards such as the ones being proposed by the AAA is needed in order to give companies “the necessary confidence and trust in online transactions.”

Other signatories to the protocol include BellSouth, DaimlerChrysler AG, PepsiCo Inc., Pitney Bowes Inc., Unisys Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., according to the AAA. In addition to the planned arbitration service, the organization said it also is developing a program under which B2B marketplaces could offer a dispute management process to their users.

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