The novel Corona virus changed the way industries used to work before. It impacted almost every industry, including legal. It gave an unlikely scope for the way legal services are provided worldwide.  Fundamentally, legal services have been very conventional and ‘old-school’; however, COVID-19 changed the business of law.  The world came at a halt, so the courts too, but the legal world gradually welcoming the ‘WFH (Work From Home)’ environment. In fact, in its latest guidance during the COVID-19 era, the International Court of Arbitration (ICC Court) of the International Chamber of Commerce also suggested the use of case management tools and technology for arbitration.

In the recent past, there has been an explosion in the growth of international arbitration worldwide. As per the ICC 2019 ICC Dispute Resolution Statistics, it has registered 851 cases under its ICC rules of arbitration. This signifies the transformation of ADR to ODR with digital solutions. With this, there is a constant voice in favor of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in arbitrations to support the arbitrators and bring automation to save time.

Use of technology in the legal industry

Moving ahead in the use of technology, the dispute resolution experts Ethan Katsh and Janet Rifkin expressed the way technology can take on the role of a “fourth party,” in a dispute and simplifies Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).  According to them, the fundamental building blocks for ODR system should be Convenience, Trust, and Expertise. No ODR system will be successful unless it is convenient to use, provides a sense of trust & confidence in its use, and delivers expertise. In fact, they introduced the use of technology in the ecosystem to bring many functional advantages.

Online Dispute Resolution or ODR is an alternative dispute resolution method outside the courtroom with means of the internet, technology, and a system or solution. ODR consists of negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, or sometimes a combination of all three.

The legal industry lagged in the adoption of technology, yet the transformation is there. The use of modern technology helped arbitration and transformed the way arbitrations are executed. In order to bring a consistent online practice for arbitration and to boost up the use of technology in arbitration, a panel of renowned arbitration practitioners collectively decided to have a protocol. The protocol for online case management in international arbitration has been released by the panel to give a clear direction to the ‘future of arbitration.’

Use of technology in arbitration made a certain favorable impact on the process of arbitration. It facilitates arbitration in multiple ways and provides a potential improvement in arbitration practice efficiency worldwide. However, what are the factors that make online case management for arbitration to consider it an adequate solution for arbitration participants; have a look.

Essential for an online arbitration case management system

Ideally, an online arbitration case management solution should have a number of facets to consider and address. It should align with the idea of ODR suggested by Ethan Katsh and Janet Rifkin. The most vital part of this solution should be document management with security and safety. Along with this, it should equip with arbitration functional features based on the traditional arbitration practice with an easy-to-use interface. For a particular case, all documents should be submitted in a single solution, so that all parties could submit the documents and upload exhibits too. It should have the capacity to manage multiple file types.

Email communications were the first move in the direction of using technology in ODR; however, the transformation in legal culture needed to excessive email communication. Also, the file size was the restriction with emails, and security was a concern while sharing. It creates a space for the solution to provide a communication capability. So, the arbitrators, institutes, and tribunals can communicate via solution without any size restrictions. The long email trails will be history, and miscommunication over email can be easily avoided.

Next would be the secure and larger storage space for documents. Any case management solution that provides a secure, centralized repository with permission driven access could simplify the process. It would give all documents and exhibits in the appropriate place and can be easily retrieved as needed. Additionally, this will be available to access irrespective of the geographic locations as we experienced restrictions on movements during the COVID-19 outbreak.

An online arbitration case management system should ensure that the arbitration records are in order and exhibits are prepared carefully before presenting it to the tribunals. It takes a leap in arbitration practice and makes it a more digital practice. It would be a ‘paperless’ arbitration as the entire process will operate via this solution only. The idea behind promoting online arbitration to bring in practice was born from #Greenerarbitration campaign run by various arbitration practitioners worldwide. It will help to reduce the carbon footprint of international arbitration.

Chronology of a case has its significance; mismanagement could cost a fortune to any participant. The case management solution could keep chronology in synchronization with the hearing and submissions. It would empower the tribunal to paste future deadlines via solution, and parties can get the same. It can also provide a procedural history outline before proceeding further in the award.

Arbicomm as facilitator for online arbitration case management

Knovos’ Arbicomm is a key enabler of this digital transformation in the arbitration practice worldwide. It is making effective use of technology to increase efficiency, reduce expenses, and optimize the lawyers’ time to serve clients. It has all the capabilities to enable online arbitration case management for institutes and arbitrators.

Arbitration institutes need to adopt, implement, and promote technology solutions. There could be a few more development in the existing solutions that can be discussed. The video conferencing tool, remote attendance, digital hearing, AI-based due diligence, and online legal assistance could be few of them. The world is transforming at a faster pace, so the business of law too. It became a mandate to look at the new-age innovative solution to prepare for the ‘new normal’ in arbitration.

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