Fifth Circuit Launches Small Claims Online Dispute Resolution Pilot
News Release from Hawaii Judiciary, Feb 1, 2023
LIHUE, Hawaii – The Hawaii State Judiciary announced today that the Fifth Circuit Court (Kauai County) will launch an Online Dispute Resolution Pilot Project (ODR). Beginning today, parties to certain small claims cases will be required to use TurboCourt, an online application, to file, negotiate, and attempt to resolve their small claims cases online before court-ordered mediation. Parties who may not have the technological resources to participate online must request an exemption from a judge.
More detailed information about ODR can be found on the Judiciary website under the Self-Help tab – Small Claims, or you may call the Fifth Circuit District Court in Lihue at 808-482-2303.
In 2021, the First Circuit (Oahu) was the first to launch the pilot program, followed by the Second Circuit (Maui County). And most recently, the Third Circuit (Hawaii Island) launched in the fall of 2022. As a result, 1,153 individuals were able to electronically file their small claim cases, with many of those parties utilizing the free online negotiation tools to dispute their small claims cases online instead of immediately heading to court.
Now in its second year, ODR continues to allow self-represented litigants (SRLs) the ability to file their small claims cases including recovering money owed (up to $5,000) or recovering a residential security deposit. Using TurboCourt, which guides them through the process with step-by-step questions, ODR will generate and file all the required court forms, including the option to request a fee waiver. In addition, ODR provides parties a seven-day window to negotiate their dispute and generate a settlement agreement all within the portal. For those parties who are unable to fully resolve their dispute, but may have been able to come a little closer to an agreement, will return to the court for court-ordered mediation to resolve the remaining disputes.
ODR allows parties to file their cases at their convenience, without having to take time off work, find care for a family member, and incur the cost of gas and parking, or the time and expense for public transportation for multiple trips to the courthouse. “We have found that self-represented litigants like the convenience of filing online, with 52% doing so during non-business hours, on weekends, and even holidays,” said Angela Min, Judiciary Innovations Officer.
With the launch of the Fifth Circuit (Kauai), ODR is now statewide and we look forward to future enhancements to better serve court users and streamline the court process.