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Covid-19 has affected all spheres of international business, and if you decide to initiate an arbitration in Europe or any other jurisdiction, you are likely to face certain difficulties. Therefore, you will need to make some adjustments in your modus operandi to ensure quicker access to dispute resolution. 

One option of ensuring faster access to justice and safer resolution of disputes is virtual arbitration.  

Advantages of Virtual Arbitration

Resolving a commercial dispute through virtual arbitration during the pandemic isn’t only safe but also provides one with a whole plethora of opportunities. Here’s what makes virtual arbitration so attractive:

  1. Accessibility and reliability. Starting from March 17, 2020, Ontario-based courts suspended their regular operation and announced that they’d only try really urgent cases. Following that, judicial institutions in Ontario began to make themselves remotely available. 
  2. Awareness of virtual environment. Under the current conditions, quite a few lawyers and judges are using navigation technologies they were previously unaware of to settle disputes through arbitrationа. Lawyers and arbitrators that participate in the resolution of domestic arbitrations or resolution of international commercial disputes through arbitration, as well quite a few arbitral bodies are already aware of how to submit documentation online, including providing links. 
  3. Customized proceedings. Even though quite a few lawyers and arbitrators are aware of how to administer proceedings in virtual environment, very few of them had a chance to do it remotely. Conducting arbitration enables them to be more more flexible in  resolving commercial disputes in Europe, Asia and the US, as well as foresee the risks related to virtual environment. 

Seeking legal advice on potential arbitration risks during COVID-19?  Contact IQ Decision UK and get all the information you need!

Best Arbitration Practices

The list of the best arbitration practices is meant to help judges, lawyers and parties administer arbitration hearings and govern the conduction of hearings. The list of the best practices includes:

  • Preliminary Questions

Please, note that if you are planning to initiate an arbitration in the countries of Europe, Asia or America, you will have to secure agreement of all the parties involved to conduct the proceedings remotely.  You should also make sure that the results of the proceedings will not get contested. 

  • Choosing a Platform for Video Conferencing

Before initiating an arbitration, you should select a proper platform for video conferencing. The platform is to meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. ensure proper level of confidentiality;
  2. ensure proper quality video and audio streaming;
  3. provide participants with an opportunity to demonstrate documents on the screen.

Also, resolving a dispute through virtual arbitration requires:

  1. hiring a 3rd party for organizing, monitoring, supporting and troubleshooting the videoconferencing equipment, including during the conduction of proceedings;
  2. in case no 3rd party is available, the parties are to make the necessary provisions for the procumerant of the above services.
  • Expenses and Equipment

The parties will need to agree on sharing the costs with regard to technical support. They should also make sure that there are no compatibility issues with the platform. They may also need to run a test session to make sure that the platform functions properly. 

  • Requirements During Trial

To be able to resolve a financial dispute through virtual arbitration, you should keep in mind time zones. That will enable you to select the most suitable time for the hearing. If it is decided that the videoconferencing format does not work properly or that it adversely affects either of the parties or jeopardizes the integrity of the hearing, the hearing will be immediately terminated.

  • Identifying of Participants

Once the trial has commenced, each of the participants is to identify any other individuals that are present at the same location. 

  • Confidentiality

The parties take all the necessary steps to ensure confidentiality during the  conduction of a virtual arbitration. Only the identified participants are to have access to video and audio files of  the hearings.

  • Documents and Witness Testimony

If either of the parties decides to initiate an arbitration that will involve demonstration of documentary evidence, they are to notify an authorized body 1 week in advance of the hearings. 

  • Lawyer’s Responsibility

A lawyer is to top make sure that any witness they question during direct or cross-examination has full and fair access to any material evidence.

Conclusion

Given the global impact of the pandemic, virtual arbitration may prove to be a viable option. It provides one with a number of advantages, making it possible to come up with a flexible process of resolving commercial disputes. It also makes it possible to foresee the risks that may arise in virtual environment.

Seeking legal advice on matters pertaining to resolution of disputes during the pandemic? Looking for consultations on prevention of business risks related to coronavirus? Get in touch with IQ Decision UK!