The way we are currently conducting business is being challenged, and the ADR and legal community are not immune to these challenges.
But I would like to pose the question, where is this challenge coming from? Is it from being forced to adopt a different way to conduct ADR proceedings or our need to go through a change and growth management exercise?
The legal profession has always been known to being resistant to technological change, or late adopters to IA and technological advancements. Despite the fact that we still discuss the IA and its effect on our business and profession, it remains to be a hot button issue rather than an adopted measure.
Albeit my initial statement about the legal profession’s resistance to the technological advances, but one cannot dismiss that case management solutions are growing in popularity amongst some law firms, arbitrators, and arbitration centers. Teleconference and e-conferencing solutions have been used as a contingency rather than the main tool in the means of communication, email communication was used to confirm or communicate to support a point or to confirm what has been agreed generally speaking.
The ADR field should be an alternative to traditional routes to the dispute resolution, and provide in theory a faster, cheaper and more confidential procedure to the disputing parties. As we stand now, we can say that the only criterion we 100% meet is the confidentiality aspect, the fast and cheaper criteria are very subjective and vary from one case to another, meaning that these criteria will vary depending on the complexity of the case, availability of the arbitrators and delay tactics of the counselors.
During the past week alone we went from mainly physical interactions with parties, Mooties (in the case of the very impressive e-Vis Pre-Moot in Bahrain), and planned conferences, to e-meeting through different platforms, trying to conduct arbitral proceedings through e-conferencing solutions and even conduct a part of the procedural related matters by emails.
Given the multiple challenges that have presented itself, and the situation that we see our selves in as arbitration professionals, I would like to say that this change no matter how aggressively it was imposed on us actually will help us all to move towards the change that we were supposed to willingly adopt, below are some of the aspects that I suspect will be effected and excuse some of the contradicting titles but I will make an argument for each title:
Local “Sourcing”: I think this pandemic forced everyone to look inwards and re-arrange their internal business and look at local practitioners a more thorough look before going for an international well-know Practitioner. By all means, I am not opposed to more well-known practitioners but there is a growing need to prepare the next generation of Future “Rock Star” names in the Arbitration and ADR filed.
Global Integration: e-conferencing enabled all of us to conduct all sorts of meetings, events, and even competitions online, each participant was simultaneously in their country, which is posing the question, can this arrangement be done during simpler less complex arbitration proceedings? And how successful will it be in mediations as well especially that some tools are allowing for breakout virtual rooms?
Reduction of costs: all of these options are leading directly or even indirectly to reducing the costs of travel for arbitrators and parties, in addition to time allocation for hearings, and to costs associated with the logistics of venue renting, food and beverage and even printing and shipping of bundles.
There might be more questions and speculations at this point of how the arbitration community as a whole will deal with the Coronavirus, and its effects on how we conduct business, but time will only tell the full ramifications both positives and negatives on all aspects of our lives.
You can also read the article from here.