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Second Life commentator ‘Gwyneth Llewelyn’ has a press release up, presumably from the Portuguese Ministry of Justice, which says that the Ministry, “in cooperation with the University of Aveiro and the Portugal e-Justice Centre in Second LifeFaculty of Law of the Lisbon New University, will today launch an ‘e-Justice Centre’, a mediation and arbitration centre,” in Second Life.

By “today” they mean 3 AM SLT, Friday, July 27 — about five hours after the release was posted. So unless you live somewhere other than the United States, or are an insomniac, you’re probably going to find out about this after it happened. But if you find out in time, or just want to check it out later, you can visit the Centre (nicely executed in glass, albeit with a heavy Roddenberry influence) at this SLURL.


Given the scope of this project, it is rather odd how little press it has gotten. In fact, aside from ‘Llewelyn,’ nobody else seems to even have the release, and she posted it at 2 AM the day of the event. The quiet launch is not only a little strange, but also sort of a shame, because it looks like an ambitious, potentially controversial, project. From the press release:

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.

And jumping over to the e-Justice Centre’s web site, it gets even more interesting — they say the build is actually going to be regularly staffed, a relative rarity in Second Life.

This centre provides mediation and arbitration services for all avatars in Second Life in the resolution of disputes resulting from consumer relations or any other contract-based relations signed between parties.

All mediation and arbitration processes are overseen by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Laboratory of the Faculty of Law of the Lisbon New University.

Opening hours: 3pm-6pm (UTC+1), Monday to Friday

It’s still clearly a work in progress — both the “Processes” and “How it Works” pages are “under development,” but it looks worth keeping an eye on.

Organizers say they are going to try to run a video feed of the RL ceremonies in to Second Life. Proceedings at the Centre will be bilingual (English and Portuguese, presumably), though according to the release, the ceremonies this morning will be in Portuguese only.

On the off chance that there’s a Portuguese-speaking reader out there, and you can attend this and post something in the comments, I know other readers would very much welcome a description of the ceremony and would like to learn more about the procedures and processes they’re hoping to put in place too.

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6 Responses to “Portuguese Ministry of Justice to Open Alternative Dispute Resolution Facility in Second Life”

  1. on 27 Jul 2007 at 9:12 amBenjamin Duranske

    Marcos Daniel Marado Torres (‘Mind Booster Noori’), a Informatics Engineer in Lisbon, posted a short writeup that includes a summary of the Q&A from the opening (actually, they only took three Q’s and the A’s are pretty skimpy, but it’s something). He’s contemplating posting more, and I hope he does.

  2. on 27 Jul 2007 at 12:23 pmMind Booster Noori

    Hi there,

    While I’m not expecting to write more about this but in a couple of days, wanting to first listen all the stuff the Portuguese media is talking about it, oppinions and reactions, there’s already one oppinion that I think you might be interested in reading. It is written in Portuguese, so here is the translated version. Since the translation is automatic, you might find hard to understand something there. If you do, or if you want to know something else, feel free to ask me and I’ll try to give you the propper answer.

  3. on 27 Jul 2007 at 12:27 pmBenjamin Duranske

    Mind Booster Noori – thanks a lot for that link. It looks to me like one of the biggest questions the poster is asking is, “What happens if one of the parties won’t participate or refuses to comply with the decision?” Is that right?

    Very interesting piece. Thanks again for linking to it, and for your comment.

  4. on 27 Jul 2007 at 2:49 pmAshcroft Burnham

    I understand that the centre is to use Portugese law for its arbitrations, and has no independent, in-world enforcement mechanism (parties would have to go to an actual court, perhaps in Portugal, to enforce their arbitration agreement, and incur all the expenses and difficulties that in-world arbitration/litigation is there to save). As such, it does not solve the pressing need for a SecondLife-specific system of law, but does provide an interesting insight into the future of first-life legal disputes; may one day substantial amounts of arbitration be done in virtual space?

  5. on 07 Aug 2007 at 4:04 amMind Booster Noori

    Benjamin: yes, that was the question.

  6. [...] Developer ‘Michel Manen’ said that over 200 avatars visited during the ceremonies, including ‘Robin Linden’ (Robin Harper, Linden Lab’s VP of Marketing and Community Development). The event included music, and a presentation by Second Life commentator ‘Gwyneth Llewelyn‘ on the Portuguese e-Justice alternative dispute resolution facility that recently opened in Second Life. [...]

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