The Coronavirus had a direct impact on Arbitration and ODR (Online dispute resolution) which resulted in more acceptance towards ODR and embrace of ODR. This is supported by the wide use of video and communication means in the judicial system, education, and e-commerce.
The Covid-19 pandemic placed us in extreme situations in almost all aspects of our society. Our justice system has also struggled to cope with these situations.
As they explored developments, they concluded that online proceedings would be the best choice to get by. Online dispute resolution platforms are now widely used. This is not surprising since the online platform can help to resolve disputes, prevent delays, and protect the health of the parties involved.
Before the pandemic, the arbitration procedures settle the disputes in a face-to-face fashion. The state dictates the proceedings as this is a state-owned litigation procedure. However, the pandemic changed the setting of this simple dispute settlement.
Arbitrations acceptance to the online process has accelerated. It is essential to continue with dispute resolution even under a global health crisis. We cannot suddenly stop attending to them and wait for the pandemic to end.
The online platform is a good choice of action to adapt to these changes. It complies with the health standards, protects the parties and arbitration committee, and ensures that parties’ cases and disputes can be resolved.
As the shift to an online platform happened, guidelines are established by lots of justice institutions. The need to maintain fairness while adapting to the new technology present is very much needed.
Another manifestation of this global health crisis’s impact on arbitration is the increasing use of online dispute resolution platforms. Online dispute resolution, or ODR, is a platform where information technology is utilized in resolving disputes.
The change in arbitration and online dispute resolution is very evident as the pandemic made us do so. Now, we have explored the gist of the arbitration adjustments, and the ODR platform lets us go into detail as we read more of this article. What are the changes in these fields, and are we heading towards a better future for arbitration proceedings?
For relevant information on ODR platforms, What is the Most Efficient and Fair Platform for Online Dispute Resolution? and What is ODR (Online Dispute Resolution)? What does ODR mean?
The Arbitration Process Before the Pandemic
The state courts resolve the dispute that arises between parties. This is so because the state owns practically the whole judicial system. Nevertheless, an arbitrator can be an option for some parties which agree to it.
Arbitration is a settlement system where parties involved in the dispute agree that independent arbitrators solve their disputes.
These arbitrators are still under the jurisdiction of the state. It’s just that these arbitrators have their power based on the agreement between the parties.
Basically, arbitrations are a more private process compared to public and state-owned litigations. Arbitrators make their decisions as they hear arguments and receive evidence from the parties involved in the dispute.
One thing to note about them is that arbitrations are more flexible and innovative than state courts governed by a very rigid structure.
You would expect that arbitrations are more useful if we need alternatives to court litigations since we are currently under a global health crisis.
The Impact of Coronavirus to Arbitration: Adjustments and Measures Taken
The Covid-19 pandemic demanded innovations in the way we go on with our everyday needs. We needed to adapt to these changes so that we can carry on with our daily functions.
One of these who needed to adapt to the drastic change caused by the pandemic was the arbitration procedures.
Fortunately, since arbitrations are autonomous, they adapted very quickly. The agreement of the parties in the dispute can even mold how their resolution can go about. With this, they can have mechanisms for resolution even during a global pandemic.
An advantage of arbitrations is the possibility of resolving disputes without unnecessary health risks for the parties and even the arbitrators involved.
With the coronavirus pandemic, our primary needs have shifted to an online platform. Arbitrations have been present on the online platform even before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the pandemic escalated the demand and utilization of arbitrations online.
For example, cross-border arbitrations were used mainly in online arbitration long before the pandemic. These arbitration platforms can also currently serve as a possible alternative for resolving low to medium-value commercial disputes.
Following the sudden shift to an online platform, institutions establish guidelines to facilitate this. Upholding justice and fairness is still the utmost priority. Examples of these are the International Chamber of Commerce’s guidance notes last April 9, 2020. This dwells into the measures for mitigation on Covid-19 pandemic effects to arbitration. A similar step was done by the London Court of International Arbitration, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, and Singapore International Arbitration.
The common goal of these was still to have a resolution of disputes without any pandemic-related delays.
The Covid-19 pandemic pushed the arbitral institutions into a novel platform. These resolutions need to be done online. So, the institutions quickly needed to use their online resources efficiently.
Moreover, the proceedings that they are having still need to be fair but cost-effective.
Technological advancements made all these possible. The pandemic catalyzed the shift of arbitration to online methods.
The Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Litigation
Similar to the changes in arbitration, litigations must also operate under a pandemic. To protect the health of the parties, an online platform would be the best option to use.
Conducting online litigations still has its limitations. First, it is difficult to classify these as essential functions. In fact, many litigation platforms temporarily closed during the early parts of the pandemic.
Furthermore, the public’s access to online litigation serves as an impediment also. A fundamental principle of a legal system is that the public should be capable of accessing it if they need it.
Lastly, financial resources available to the jurisdiction limit their capacity to invest in incorporating their litigations in a novel platform.
Impact of Coronavirus on Online Dispute Resolution
Online dispute resolution is a combination of communications technology and information management to manage and resolve disputes. Now, we have many available online dispute resolution platforms, and they have been serving parties for their disputes for quite some time already.
Online dispute resolution platforms make it possible for some cases of dispute to be settled even under a pandemic where we lack face-to-face interactions for health purposes.
The pandemic made online dispute resolution essential and valuable. The arbitrators and counsel are still available even with the ongoing health crisis.
Also, the arbitration committee can conduct the resolution by using different online dispute resolution mechanisms. One common mechanism is virtual hearings.
Virtual Hearings during the Covid-19 Pandemic
As the Covid-19 pandemic greatly affected the conduct of in-person hearings, the virtual hearing had been the next best choice. With virtual hearings, proceedings can continue, and resolution can be achieved as soon as possible without unnecessary delay.
What are virtual hearings? These are hearings conducted with audio-visual means. With these, arbitrations can progress even if the participants are not in the same court or room. Traveling to the hearing site to attend a hearing is not required anymore.
Now that we have technological advancements such as email, messaging apps, and virtual conferences, virtual hearings are very feasible. Also, the flexibility and relatively lower cost of virtual hearings will surely make it an integral part of our justice system.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual hearings have been essential. Arbitrations are one step ahead of the litigations because of this online activity.
With the increasing use of virtual hearings, arbitrators produced guidelines for these as well. The guidelines include remote arrangements of the parties, applications that can be used, and even technological standards that need to be met.
Using virtual hearings during the Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly escalated. Now, we only need to refine it. Soon enough, this can be one of the top options for arbitration procedures.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought an immeasurable amount of adjustments that need to be taken care of. This extraordinary situation pushed the justice system and institutions to provide a flexible method for them to carry on.
Initially, jurisdictions just needed to continue to function under a pandemic. Since online platforms are the best choice, it was utilized. Now, the need for using online platforms seems indispensable.
Fortunately, the justice system quickly adapted to an online platform. The adaptation is dispute resolution systems have shown their eagerness to continue in providing service for the public.
For the justice institutions, correct handling and understanding of the technology and virtual tools needed for their new proceeding mechanisms need further studies.
Further developments will make arbitration better in the future. One thing to look out for is that developments are needed for managing the tension between access to justice, ensuring due process, health concerns, and many more,
As we changed from physical to virtual, there will definitely be an adjustment period. During this time, the arbitrators should be very careful. If they made a mistake, they might even make justice more inaccessible to the public.
This defeats the purpose of what we want to achieve for parties with disputes.
Even though it started as merely a means to cope, they can innovate as needed by the people. Who knows, maybe this mechanism would be better in the long run.