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Ensuring Transparency in Arbitration Builds Trust
3 min read
Some say that transparency is just the absence of bias, however, transparency in arbitration pertains to operating in a way that is easy for involved parties to see what actions are being performed to reach a resolution. Here we will discuss how transparency is a must to achieve justice and to give people a vote of confidence in the system. Facilitation of transparency in arbitration One of the key benefits of arbitration is how the procedure is kept confidential from the world at large. However, the confidentiality of the procedure should not be kept secret amongst involved parties, which is where transparency comes into play.  Commercial law expert and current Solicitor-Advocate and Partner at Mishcon de Reya LLP Mark Deem explains that transparency in the process of arbitration and people’s trust in it goes hand-in-hand.  “Transparency can and needs to exist in a confidential setting — if you’re going to have trust in the process, that must be put in place. Transparency and trust often go hand-in-hand. Without transparency in the procedure and how it is intended to work, the dispute resolution process could go askew,” he says. To ensure transparency,  an important guideline for an arbitrator is to declare previous, current, and future instances where conflict of interest to any involved parties may account — they should disclose any and all connections to every party. They must also inhibit from participating in the arbitration procedure if they are aware of any conflict of interest that may arise from their participation.  Parties are also given the privilege of agreeing to their set terms. They will be made aware of how the procedure will take place, and as mentioned earlier, they themselves have the right to put in place guidelines, as approved by the appointed arbitrator.  The importance of transparency in arbitration Deem emphasizes that being transparent in the arbitration process does not mean that the confidentiality aspect is totally removed, instead, it is enhancing the real value of arbitration—the establishment of trust.  “People come to it with a belief that it is the correct dispute mechanism that then has to be reciprocated with transparency to create the trust,” he points out.  Transparency ensures that every part of the process is fair to everyone involved. Parties will be given the opportunity to discuss with the arbitrator and the other party how the conflict resolution process will be conducted, keeping them aware and cautious of their actions.  With that, parties will be more accountable for their own actions that will take place as they resolve the conflict. It will keep everyone in check that they are able to fulfill the agreed-upon terms of the arrangement.  The transparency of the Jur platform With Jur, users—both parties and arbitrators—will be able to experience a level of transparency that will be beneficial to those involved in the arbitration procedure.  One of the main features of Jur is that parties will be able to strike out arbitrators who may have some level of conflict of interest to the procedure. However, it ensures to maintain a level of fairness with the set limit to the number of strikeouts a party can make.  Striking off arbitrators in the Jur Arbitration Platform Users also have visibility  on every step of the arbitration process even before the procedure takes place. This way they are given an overview that will guide them throughout the conduct of the arbitration to ensure that they are aware of what they will have to do and what will be done to resolve the conflict at hand.  The platform also offers a clear and transparent communication channel for its users to keep track of every correspondence between arbitrators and among involved parties. With this, users can say goodbye to long email threads and missing pertinent files that will be used to arrive at an award.  Transparency remains at the forefront of Jur’s platform, by giving its users a clear path on achieving conflict resolution with a streamlined correspondence during the whole procedure. 

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Justice Talk with Sebastian Mejia: Leveraging Digital Arbitration for Business Disputes
Disputes in business are normal, however, efficient ways to resolve them can sometimes be difficult to find. There are a lot of options, but there seems to always be a disconnect between what is provided and what is needed. In a fragmented industry with lots of options vying to be the chosen one by business owners, digital arbitration is slowly gaining popularity. With digital arbitration, business disputes can be handled efficiently and effectively. In this Justice Talk, we interviewed international commercial arbitration specialist Sebastian Mejia to discuss how businesses can leverage the power of digital arbitration for their disputes. Sebastian Mejia: The practical application of digital arbitration Our guest, Sebastian Mejia, is an international arbitration specialist in the truest sense of the world. He is an international arbitration lawyer qualified to practice law in New York and Madrid. Sebastian is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb). In terms of his professional background, Sebastian has almost a decade of experience handling multiple cases in the financial, construction, sports, insurance, technology, and energy sectors. His experience in arbitration has immensely grown during the COVID era after having been part of a multi-billion dollar dispute that was handled through digital arbitration. Sebastian believes that as digital technologies evolved, businesses of all kinds in all industries and all sizes also adapted to the change. With his international outlook and first-hand experience with digital arbitration, Sebastian shares his valuable insight about the direction of the arbitration industry as a whole, and how this will affect businesses worldwide. Tools of the trade: How digital arbitration can be good for business To understand how digital arbitration works in business disputes, we must first learn what are the features of this up-and-coming dispute resolution method in facilitating better justice practices that benefit entrepreneurs. The main factor contributing to digital arbitration helping businesses is the cost reduction it brings in dispute resolution. Sebastian agrees with this and says: “With emerging digital technologies, it's possible to have a more transparent arbitrator selection process which when combined with the ability to automate and reduce bureaucratic tasks can contribute to cost savings.” “For me, arbitration which uses any type of digital tool is just a way to further boost those advantages,” he quips, noting how digital arbitration essentially enhances what arbitration can already do from the get-go. “I think there are features of digital arbitration that benefit every single dispute and business,” Sebastian says, who proceeds to provide us with a few examples of how digital arbitration facilitates this boost in efficiency, starting with digital documents management. “So you have technologies that let you have a common repository of all the documents, communications, procedural orders, evidence, and submissions,” he says, “And those kinds of technologies let you access them wherever and whenever in a secure environment.” Sebastian tells us how these kinds of technologies even push the boundaries further by not only managing documents, but also sorting them based on the relevance to the dispute: “These AI-assisted and technology-powered review tools helped us identify the key documents, and I’m pretty sure that within the 10,000-something documents that we had, we didn’t miss a single important document. And I’m 100% confident that the reason for that was not only the great people that were working on it but also the tools [that helped us] do it,” he shares. This boost in efficiency is a great feature for businesses who want to use digital arbitration in settling their dispute as it helps cut down the time, therefore, reducing the cost of arbitration. Virtual hearings is another example Sebastian discussed where he outlined how it helped in the efficient use of time. As for his experience with it, this is what he has to say: “The virtual hearing process went very well. What impressed me the most was how lawyers worked more effectively and efficiently.” “In a physical hearing, you normally have the main hearing room and each party has their breakout rooms,” he explains, “But when you’re in a virtual hearing, you probably have your whole team there. Whoever was doing the advocacy at the time had a camera on their face with an open mic, while everyone else was to the side with closed mics working in the background.”  With all these cost savings brought by efficiency, arbitration becomes a win-win situation for businesses and arbitrators alike: “What we want from digital arbitration is not for the arbitrators and lawyers to be paid less,” Sebastian boldly explains, “but for everyone to be more efficient.”   Leveling the playing field “Small businesses don't have to have an internal legal team,” notes Sebastian, “A lot of times, it's just the owners or CEOs who are negotiating and signing a contract. Because of that, dispute resolution clauses are almost always the last thing they negotiate, if at all.” This reality could then be rectified by leveraging digital arbitration to positively affect smaller businesses who may not have the resources necessary to conduct arbitration to resolve issues, “To a degree, it also levels the playing field, because large companies and firms already have access to all of this. However, if anyone can access arbitration from anywhere, smaller firms who don’t have those kinds of tools get a fighting chance,” Sebastian explains. “Companies should not be paying for their own learning experiences, and just writing off costs because they cannot pursue their rights — and that’s where I think arbitration helps,” says Sebastian. “In the end, an important element of arbitration is a due process — making sure that everyone’s being heard, and everyone has the opportunity to be heard,” he says. Big impact for big businesses With all that’s been said so far, it does not mean that digital arbitration is exclusively for small business disputes. On the contrary, large companies with multi-million and even billion-dollar value disputes are also using digital arbitration. Sebastian has shared with us an experience he’s had in handling a high-value dispute amidst the pandemic, through the power of digital arbitration. In this case, he was able to see for himself the documents management system and virtual hearings in action. “Through AI-technology, documents were sorted properly and it helped us tell a coherent story,” he shares, “Because this was a case that had tens and thousands of documents, we needed to find a way to focus the story. Through technology, we were able to identify the key point of the piece regardless of how massive it was.” With regards to how they operated, Sebastian shared how their hybrid system of online and offline work environments helped optimize their time: “We organized hubs. So for example, on our side, we had a hub in one of our European offices. And the others were in different parts of the world. It was not the first, but it was definitely the largest [and most complex] virtual hearing I had been in.” Sebastian recalls. Through this method, Sebastian says that they were able to collaborate more efficiently and effectively. The one doing the advocacy had their camera and microphones on, thus having everyone’s focus. Meanwhile, everyone else’s mics were closed and they got to do work in the background. “Digital procedures are now much more acceptable to all the parties, which again, is good because it reduces costs, it makes things more efficient,” Sebastian says, sharing how regardless of how small or large a company is, people nowadays have become more accepting of digital arbitration. “No business, however big, will say ‘Oh, I'm happy spending and sending a team of five lawyers halfway across the world for today,’” he says when we asked how big businesses respond to the cost savings of digital arbitration. “For large companies, it's probably just a drop in the barrel, but it’s still money, time, and inefficiency.” “You don't have to book three full days for a one-day hearing anymore. You can just book the six or the four hours in a day for the hearing and you're good to go,” he explains. Sebastian also noted how this reduction in travel time also reduced carbon footprint which he believes to be important in the grander scheme of things. “There’s always some element of digital arbitration that may benefit every single dispute and every single business,” says Sebastian. “Digital arbitration is not tailored for specific types of disputes. I wouldn’t say ‘Oh, only small disputes, only large disputes, only contractual disputes, or only disputes where you have documents’. As I said, the flexibility of online hearings, automated document processing, transparency in appointments, and other features allow anyone to have a good procedure for any dispute.” Finally, Sebastian reveals how third-party providers became pivotal in ensuring that digital arbitration was successfully conducted: “In a lot of hearings, they say that ‘We can manage this, this is just like another video call. I will just share my screen and show the documents — however that’s not the case,” he explains, “The providers we had helped in making sure that there were no glitches in the procedure and the arbitration process would be delightful for us all.” We agree with Sebastian as we believe that digital arbitration should be handled with utmost care. Fortunately, the Jur Arbitration Platform is here to deliver unparalleled arbitration services built to leverage digital arbitration for business disputes. 
Legal Design: What Is It and How We Implement It
Legal design warrants a short introduction. Design and law are often seen as two opposing concepts: one of creativity, left-brain thinking, and the other is associated with stacks of paper, logical processes, and hard-to-read language. However, Jur Legal Engineer Intern Dalya Droste points out that the emergence of customer-based approaches and compliance measures have been pivotal in the legal world’s adoption of a more human-centered approach. Here design lends it the right toolbox by creating or arranging elements in view of a particular purpose. Roots of customer-centric design The aesthetics and simplified processes provided by design can make terms and conditions, laws, and regulations easier to read for the 65 percent who are predominantly visual learners.   Design simplified for accessibility and functionality can be seen earliest in the Bauhaus school, e.g., in the designs by Walter Gropius and Mies Van Der Rohe. The integration of technology into design and business was pushed forth in the 1980s with business demand for design to broaden consumer electronics markets.  Bauhaus-Inspired Editorial Design in Adobe XD The evolution of these approaches and the bond that was created between them eventually led to the emergence of what we now call legal design.  Jur and legal design As Jur works to bring together people from different backgrounds and sectors, it is important to retain a customer-centric approach that is simple to understand.  Due to this, Jur has started to deconstruct its arbitration rules to make them easy to follow and understand.  This has been done through simplifying ifs and intricacies into visuals and logical workflows. The Jur Arbitration Platform features a step-by-step guide that parties and arbitrators can follow to easily conduct arbitration. The “loading bar” expresses legal design’s implementation in an intuitive approach that is easy to understand. Jur Arbitration Platform's tech-guided arbitration Bridging the knowledge gap Not only has legal design been implemented to improve customer experience, but it has also been used to explain legal concepts to the different business divisions here at Jur. This brings everyone on the same page and ensures a fruitful collaboration between different departments. Striking off arbitrators in the Jur Arbitration Platform An example of this is how arbitrators in a randomly-arranged panel can be easily struck off by parties. The red X mark followed by the greying out of the text shows that an arbitrator is deselected. This is an industry-first feature that many may not be familiar with which is why the design language needs to be easily understood. Legal design will continue to shape the way in which law is perceived and understood by end-users.  Jur is excited to be at the forefront of this movement.