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Three Key Tips for Successful Virtual Arbitration of a Commercial Dispute

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Business owners like you are likely, at some stage, to fall into a commercial dispute during your business activities. Sometimes, these can resolve themselves quickly, but they can sometimes escalate and become messy. Commercial disputes can prevent your business from progressing, costing time and money. Therefore, you must try to resolve a commercial disagreement as soon as possible. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods are one way to do this, including commercial arbitration, possibly with an arbitration agreement. However, commercial arbitration in person is optional. Instead, you can do so virtually through online arbitration with virtual hearings.

You may find that online hearings with virtual arbitration as an online dispute resolution method suits your business needs. You may decide to use arbitral institutions as part of your remote arbitration. This article will explain three key tips for successful virtual arbitration for your commercial dispute in the UK. 

What is Virtual Arbitration for Your Commercial Dispute?

Arbitration for your commercial dispute is a method to resolve it where an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators decides on the disagreement. They do this after listening to your and the other party’s evidence about the dispute, and their decision is legally binding. 

Commercial arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method, so it does not occur in a court like commercial litigation. Instead, it will take place confidentially as part of a tribunal, and the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators will have expertise in the area in dispute. When a commercial dispute is complicated or relates to high costs, choosing a panel of arbitrators is often more helpful than a single arbitrator.

Virtual arbitration for your commercial dispute is where the commercial arbitration takes place virtually. Therefore, rather than physically meeting as a tribunal at the seat of the arbitration, the arbitration process takes place virtually, so technology brings you together.

Key Tips for Successful Virtual Arbitration for Your Commercial Dispute

At times, choosing virtual arbitration for your commercial dispute can make sense for a business. For example, it could be practically effortless and cut out time and costs.

However, if you choose virtual arbitration to resolve your commercial dispute, you should know some essential tips to help make this successful. We look at three tips below.        

1. Ensure Confidentiality

Commercial arbitration is a confidential procedure to resolve commercial disputes. Therefore, when conducting arbitration virtually, you must ensure it respects this characteristic. This involves considering points differently than if you were carrying out non-virtual arbitration. For example, you need to consider:

  • how data or electronic bundles are stored, manipulated, processed and copied;
  • how parties will access data such as electronic bundles;
  • that you use the right technology to keep parties’ conversations private;
  • what documents are shared securely; and 
  • ensure you have the express consent of both parties to audio or visually record the hearing. 

2. Mimic a Real Hearing Room

You will hold a virtual hearing when you choose virtual arbitration for your commercial dispute. However, ensuring that this virtual arbitration hearing mimics an actual hearing room for successful virtual arbitration can be helpful. Therefore, it may be beneficial to attend from somewhere unfamiliar.  Being in familiar surroundings such as your office or home may make the arbitration hearing feel less serious. This may affect your performance when giving evidence of your commercial dispute. 

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Therefore, you may consider accessing the virtual hearing from:

  • your commercial representative’s offices;
  • conference facilities; or
  • facilities of your local arbitral institution.

You may also consider requiring all the parties to dress appropriately for the virtual arbitration hearing.

3. Avoid IT Issues

An essential tip to successful virtual arbitration is avoiding any potential IT issues during the proceedings. Virtual arbitration relies on successful IT, so tips on avoiding IT issues are essential. 

For example, you could:

  • decide which party (this is often the claimant) will operate software, or it could be an independent organisation;
  • use a suitable host for the virtual hearing, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams; and
  • check that things are in order before you start, such as equipment, WiFi and network bandwidth.

If technology causes delays in the arbitration, you should decide in advance who may be associated with the costs of this. 

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Key Takeaways

One way to settle a commercial dispute is through arbitration. In commercial arbitration, you and the party to the dispute appoint an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators to solve your commercial disagreement. They listen to your evidence and decide on an arbitral award. However, commercial arbitration can occur virtually. If you embark on virtual arbitration to resolve a commercial dispute, it is essential to understand tips for successful virtual arbitration. 

One essential tip is to ensure the confidentiality of the virtual arbitration, as this is a crucial characteristic of commercial arbitration. Another vital tip for successful arbitration is to mimic an actual hearing, which you can do by attending an unfamiliar place to carry out the virtual hearing. The third tip for successful virtual arbitration is to ensure you avoid any IT issues, such as by checking equipment and wifi in advance. 

If you need help understanding critical tips for successful virtual arbitration for your commercial dispute in the UK, LegalVision’s experienced disputes and litigation solicitors can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. So call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.

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Clare Farmer

Clare Farmer

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