The pandemic has made tech adoption faster than ever before, and this includes digital arbitration. With more arbitrators, counsels, and businesses turning to digital arbitration during a global crisis, would this new dispute resolution method stand the test of time?
We spoke with multiple experts in legal tech and international arbitration to hear their opinion, and they seem to be pointing towards the same answer — that digital arbitration is here to stay.
Read more about what they have to say.
Mark Beer, OBE
“Technology is universal. More people have access to the internet than justice. It’s ubiquitous. It sits on people’s devices. And it could give people access to legal resolution tools that go beyond any court or legal system. That’s why technology is likely to fill the justice chasm.”
Legal tech expert, Mark Beer OBE believes that technology would be able to bridge the justice chasm. He also says that the momentum, which was accelerated by the pandemic, will more likely continue in the coming years with the private sector pitching in on this movement.
“We are going to see the rise of private-sector dispute avoidance and dispute resolution processes, which deal with the settlement, conciliation, and mediation to some extent. The justice chasm is too wide and deep now to hope for the State to be able to help it in a quick fashion. Thus, private sector-led online dispute platforms will come into place.” he says.
Ben Giaretta C. Arb.
“Of course, [VR hearing] might be a step too far – it might be too much for many people to accept. But innovation will continue. Whether we take the further step of engaging in a virtual reality environment or not, more and more technology will be used, just as we have seen recently.”
For international commercial arbitrator, Ben Giaretta C. Arb, video conferencing will continue to dominate in digital arbitration, and improvements may be well underway. Through digitization, a truly international form of arbitration may also arise.
“If we are predominantly operating in a digital environment, and not physically meeting in one place, then perhaps we can finally separate arbitration from individual approaches that are adopted within individual countries, often influenced by the approaches in the local courts” he explains.
“Digital arbitration is a fantastic time and cost saver. The danger, on the flip side, is how do you avoid miscarriages of justice or wrong decisions because they are so quick?”
Sophie Nappert, an independent digital arbitrator, recognizes the benefits of digital arbitration, but she reminds us that although speed is its strength, it can also be its weakness. She also says that for tech adoption to really take flight, people in the legal industry need to have an open mind on how digital processes can help simplify procedures.
“This is [one of the] reasons why arbitration, and the courts for that matter, have resisted for so long to take everything online, because even advocates like barristers and lawyers who plead would say, ‘I can’t cross-examine, it makes no sense, there’s a whole lot of body language, chemistry, and human interaction that you don’t even have to speak and you convey information.’” she says.
“I think the main source of any resistance towards digital arbitration will come from a person’s response to technology. I think it’s inevitable that there’s going to be some degree of resistance.”
In line with the prior comment, Mark Deem, Mishcon de Reya’s Dispute Partner, says that resistance comes not from the technology per se, but the familiarity of the users such as lawyers to the technology itself. Once that is overcome, a more digital environment could prosper and help automate certain processes.
“The route through interdigital arbitration is using technology to speed up the process by which we’re reviewing documents. Then, conducting the arbitration itself in a more digital environment would soon be possible. I think that’s the next step in the evolution.” he explains.
“There’s always some element of digital arbitration that may benefit every single dispute and every single business.”
Finally, according to Sebastian Mejia, the beauty and strength of digital arbitration lie in the fact that it can be used in multiple kinds of disputes. With that, digital arbitration ensures its proliferation because of its flexibility.
“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 allows you to have a good procedure for any dispute.” he explains.
There you have it. Those are the thoughts of legal experts on whether digital arbitration is here to stay. Do you agree with their points? Comment down below
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