It was now long past the initial months when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the entire world. Like everything else, COVID first stopped the legal proceedings. But thankfully, the courts reopened, although not physically but electronically.
Arbitrations, too, followed suit. Although the resolution moves on, what lessons can you learn from this entire pandemic? And what will be the effect this pandemic for the future of arbitration remains to be seen. Find out more here.
The challenges faced by the remote (virtual) hearings depend on different practical or technological ones. It is important to note the documents that are accessed and reviewed and the video links sent. The individuals who are part of the legal team can communicate freely and privately with each other. The ICC or the International Court of Arbitration publishes numerous guidelines and checklists to ensure it goes smoothly.
However, other issues need our attention. The truth of the matter is virtual hearings require double advocacy than any physical hearings. People cannot be dominated, and there is no backing up to determine whether the technology is working in clockwork precision. However, in virtual arbitration, people do not get immediate feedback from the arbitrators. They miss the expressions of the face, and the other clues one usually looks for, such as non-verbal cues, give them a clue as to what they are thinking. Cross-examination works differently when the witness provides evidence via video links.
The semi-virtual arrangement is a hybrid arrangement where some individuals are physically present at a hearing center while others attend by video link. It offers nonverbal feedback from arbitrators, and deal with many problems of information overload. Then another concern is to understand whether you require any hearing at all.
The New Normal
When thinking about the way beyond forward after the pandemic, context is key. COVID-19 certainly has affected us more than we would care to admit.
But arbitration was under a transitionary phase. This ensured that we prepare for a more streamlined and technologically advanced procedure to prepare for a world post COVID.
There is a growing feeling among people worldwide that international arbitration is not environmentally friendly. It is not environmentally friendly as lawyers, clients, and witnesses go worldwide to attend various meetings and hearings. All this while they can easily meet online or choose this kind of corresponding instead.
It presents various issues for the parties. There is funding for the various amenities, flights, hotel rooms, and other facilities used. So, it only makes sense to take the dispute resolution process online and resolve all the problems. Besides being environmentally friendly, it saves ample time and money too!
Key benefits of digital arbitrations include paperless proceedings, remote participation, and proper collaboration. Besides, online arbitration has data security when it comes to handling sensitive legal documents. Even the best attorney finds it tough to navigate the huge pile of paperwork, and online arbitration saves them the pain. Besides, it also reduces the cost of printing, preserving, and distributing the documents to all the parties. And this makes a significant impact on cases with a lot of paperwork, where the costs can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
More benefits are coming out of it. In a global scenario where companies and law firms often have their offices and employees are across the world, most of the disputes are international.
The capability for the parties, legal team members, technical experts, and panelists participating in different parts of arbitration proceedings in real-time from various remote locations confer measurable advantages. They consult the proceeding transcriptions while proceeding with the arbitration process. Electronic hearings minimize the hearing process’s logistical complexity, which helps speed up the entire resolution process.
The electronic bundle technology also brings about a collaboration among the legal team members and their clients, wherever they are working from. Teams can get constant access to their private and secure digital place. They can view, organize, add, and edit the relevant material to prepare points and work on their strategy. And they can do this either in anticipation of the hearing or even during actual proceedings. In short, online arbitration gives real-time secure access to case documents, which is a challenge in the offline world.