Portuguese Ministry of Justice launches mediation and arbitration centre in Second Life

Press release

In a ceremony to be held in the Senate Room of the University of Aveiro, the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, in cooperation with the University of Aveiro and the Faculty of Law of the Lisbon New University, will today launch an ‘e-Justice Centre’, a mediation and arbitration centre, in the 3D virtual world of Second Life. The ceremony will be broadcast live in Second Life to avatars present in the main auditorium of the e-Justice Centre.

The centre will provide mediation and arbitration services for avatars resident in Second Life, permitting the opportunity to decide on conflicts deriving from consumer relations or any contracts signed between parties. Users of the centre can opt to resolve submitted disputes through the application of Portuguese law or through the use of impartiality criteria.

The e-Justice Centre was developed by the Ministry of Justice in close collaboration with the University of Aveiro’s Department of Communication and Art. The functioning of the mediation and arbitration centre will be the responsibility of the Faculty of Law of the Lisbon New University via a protocol signed with the Ministry of Justice.

The services provided by the centre are available in Second Life, on an island specially created for that purpose and in a building designed and created by the University of Aveiro’s Department of Communication and Art. The building was inspired by the Torre de Belém in Lisbon and is a futuristic interpretation of the structure.

Housed inside the building is the mediation and arbitration centre and all of the infrastructure needed to ensure its functioning. Besides this, the building has a further 3 rooms which can be used to hold conferences and the simulation of decisions and arbitration sessions, which will be the responsibility of the Lisbon New University’s Faculty of Law.

Through this initiative, the Ministry of Justice aims to promote the use of alternative means of dispute resolution as swift, informal and easy-to-use solutions via a channel accessible on a planetary scale, as well as emphasise the importance placed by the Portuguese government and the Presidency of the European Union on these resolution processes.
The initiative will also be an experiment into the use of methods of dispute resolution in an entirely informal and virtual manner, which could have future applications in real disputes.
It should be noted that in Second Life alone the number of resident avatars already exceeds 8 million, thereby representing a sufficient community of users to justify the creation of a dispute resolution centre.
Through this initiative, Portugal has become the first country to provide a means of dispute resolution in Second Life.

The official in-world launch will be on the eJustice Centre island at 3 AM SLT on Friday 27th, and hopefully with some live video streaming from the real event (alas, although the eJustice Centre is bilingual, I’m afraid the video stream will be in Portuguese only)

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