The coronavirus pandemic & ensuing nationwide quarantine has rendered the holding of arbitration proceedings in the Philippines impossible. Therefore, local arbitral tribunals are now looking for alternative ways of resolving disputes, and conducting virtual hearings may well be one of them.
What does it mean?
Even the country’s Supreme Court is now conducting legal proceedings via videoconferencing. Overall, arbitration hearings in the country are increasingly being held with the help of different telecommunications technologies.
Resolving disputes through remote arbitration in the Republic of Philippines involves the following stages:
- submitting a request;
- selecting an arbitrator;
- holding consultations between arbitrators.
Arbitration in the Republic of Philippines is regulated by:
- UNCITRAL Model Law;
- ADR Law;
- Republican Law.
Philippine legislation doesn’t explicitly provide for the remote holding of domestic & international arbitrations. The only exception is made for witnesses which may be questioned via telecommunications equipment. Under the ADR Law, which is applicable to domestic & international arbitration, arbitral tribunals are allowed to hold hearings wherever they deem appropriate.
It should be noted, though, that face-to-face meetings are still favored by many, including arbitrators themselves.
Conducting a virtual arbitration in the Philippines
There are several important considerations that need to be kept in mind prior to resolving a dispute via a virtual hearing, namely:
- that all those participating in the virtual hearings have equal access to reliable technology & enjoy uninterrupted Internet connectivity;
- that all the participants use private & secure channels of communication;
- that there are no strangers during the testimony stage, especially when witness testimony plays a decisive role.
All the participants should reach an agreement regarding the measures that need to be put in place to exclude any unlawful interference & ensure the integrity of witness testimony.
It’s also important to discuss all the technical aspects prior to the commencement of the virtual hearings. Doing so will help prevent the occurrence of problems during the execution phase.
Resolving disputes through arbitration is a very effective ADR method. If you have any questions regarding conducting virtual arbitration in the Philippines, do not hesitate to get in touch with IQ Decision UK in any way convenient for you. You can also sign up for a consultation on arbitration regulation in Asia by filling out a special form on our website.