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International arbitration is one of the most common ways to resolve commercial disputes in the world. Therefore, any commercial organization that works with foreign counterparties, one way or another, may encounter consideration of the case precisely in arbitration. As a means of resolving disputes, arbitration is often used because of well-known advantages: it is fast, parties can choose arbitrators, language, dispute resolution rules, venue, parties can agree on the procedure for submitting documents, and much more. 

What happens to these advantages when a private hearing becomes impossible due to COVID-19? How can arbitration be held during a coronavirus pandemic? Of course, yes - the review of cases is automatically transferred to the online. The specifics of conducting arbitration hearings in the online format will be discussed in this article.

Move online

International arbitration courts are entitled to consider any disputes of an economic nature involving both legal entities and citizens. As a rule, commercial disputes between companies from different countries are considered in arbitration, but internal disputes between residents of one country can also be considered. As the coronavirus moved from a regional to a global pandemic that closed borders and airports, arbitration hearings have moved online.

The biggest challenge was to come up with virtual hearing procedures that would be suitable for participants who can’t leave their homes, while respecting the most basic rule of the adversarial system - audi alteram partem - which underlies both the Model Law and the New York Convention. Thus, the continuity of the arbitral proceedings is respected.

Preparing an action plan in advance will help you resolve your international dispute faster with online arbitration. It will also allow for effective consideration of alternative hearing plans, as personal hearings are not possible and decisions can be made without having to make a conference call to all interested parties.

Inconvenience you may encounter

Remote dispute resolution through arbitration highly depends on technical equipment and software. Nowadays, a wide selection of online platforms are available to which several participants can connect quite easily. However, the participants may feel confused because of the place where the meetings take place. Many participants may simply be shy when they have to speak from their living rooms. 

The parties may encounter noise when conveying arguments through a video conference from home. Whether it is noise outside, the screams of children, or Internet outages. It is important that all participants expect this to happen from time to time. 

One of the positive moments is that the arbitrators may not wear their professional attire, which allows the conflicting parties to feel more relaxed.

Next, you should analyze which program or software to choose. The first step will be testing it because you need to understand whether it is suitable for online arbitration.

Together with specialists, choose the most appropriate software. You must also interview all participants to find out what kind of software they have and whether it is suitable for the process.

This can be a daunting task, as most participants will have access to the software at home without IT support, as well as on computers whose capabilities may vary greatly, as well as in terms of security. Therefore, special attention should be paid to software testing, and, preferably, repeatedly. Test several times, gradually expanding the circle of possible participants in the process. This will ensure smooth operation during the hearing process and save valuable time.

Output

International disputes resolution in an online format requires experience, discipline, and understanding that everything can go wrong as planned. Both the arbitrators and the parties to the process require endurance and the ability to cope with problems and possible challenges calmly, without unnecessary worries.

If you still have questions, do not hesitate to sign up for a consultation regarding the start of arbitration in common law countries with IQ Decision UK specialists.