As coronavirus spreads throughout the United States, more and more disputes arise between businesses and consumers. Supply-chains have been disrupted, employees laid off, and corporations may be unable to honor existing contracts. Due to social distancing guidelines, legal professionals have been forced to consider alternative methods of dispute resolution. Today, we’re going to explore one of these methods: virtual arbitration.

What is virtual arbitration & why is it so useful?

Arbitration is a consensual dispute resolution process in which parties choose to have their matters resolved by an arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal. Arbitration demand forms are available in comprehensive, expedited, and international formats. The process is very flexible and adaptable – giving participants the option to hold substantive hearings entirely remotely. This is commonly referred to as ‘virtual arbitration.’

So, how can you make the most of your virtual arbitration? Just follow these tips!

Tip #1: Decide how exhibits & documents will be presented

All parties need to come to an agreement about the exhibit presentation. Many virtual arbitrations use an electronic hearing bundle, which can be prepared by a legal support service like First Legal Depositions. If your case involves many exhibits, consider establishing a detailed and mutually agreed-upon folder structure for your online document management system. It is also particularly crucial that you correctly hyperlink your documents for easy navigation.

Tip #2: Use the right tools for the job

In order to proceed with a virtual arbitration, all parties need to have adequate hardware and sufficient training to work the technology so that no one is left at a disadvantage. This helps the hearing to run efficiently. There are many tools available for video conferencing, including Skype, WebEx, GoToMeeting, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. Discuss which service best suits your needs and conduct a full rehearsal prior to the arbitration date. Each service has unique advantages and disadvantages.

Tip #3: Leave the technology to a neutral party

Working with a neutral, third-party service provider will mitigate the risk of either party using technology failures as the basis for allegations of prejudice. This also frees your resources for more essential case issues. At First Legal Depositions, we offer complete remote videography and exhibit management. We can also take the lead in managing unexpected technical problems.

Tip #4: Consider cybersecurity risks & prepare accordingly

Many people favor arbitrations because they provide privacy to both parties that would not be available in open court. However, without adequate cybersecurity, you could find some unwelcome attendees during your arbitration. Both parties should discuss the potential risks associated with the case and agree to an appropriation of liability in the event of a breach.

Cybersecurity doesn’t begin and end during your hearing. Properly securing your arbitration means that you’ll need to transfer all information off unsecured cloud services before the hearing. You’ll also want to avoid emailing key files or recordings, even after you’ve reached a resolution. These communications can also be intercepted and may allow hackers to gain access to other privileged information. 

At First Legal Depositions, our document repositories are specifically designed for the legal industry, empower arbitrators, parties, and their counsel to securely store, transmit, and edit sensitive documents from anywhere in the world.

Tip #5: Establish a backup plan

The fact is, technical difficulties happen. Before the proceeding, all parties should agree to a ‘backup plan’ that establishes how you will move forward in the event of a delay. In some cases, you may want to take a short break if you encounter technical difficulties that can be resolved quickly. Take the time to develop a contingency plan for serious connectivity errors. When you have a backup plan prepared, the other party cannot argue they were denied due process. For example, you may have an alternative phone dial-in prepared should you need to move to a teleconference. 

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments and feel free to share it on social media. As you adapt to remote working, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Remember: we’re here for you from File Thru Trial™.