Featured COVID-19 and Technology in International Arbitration

Published on November 20th, 2021 📆 | 5060 Views ⚑

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COVID-19 and Technology in International Arbitration

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology in international arbitration, especially in the form of virtual or hybrid hearings. Initially, some parties opted to postpone and reschedule in-person evidentiary hearings hoping that the pandemic would be short-lived. However, with continued lockdowns and international travel restrictions, it soon became evident that fully-remote proceedings were unavoidable during the pandemic.

Arbitration institutions swiftly prepared guidance and adapted their rules to accommodate virtual hearings during the pandemic. In April 2020, the ICC published its Guidance Note on Possible Measures Aimed at Mitigating the Effects of the Pandemic, clarifying that Article 25(2) of the ICC Rules, which provides that the tribunal “shall hear the parties together in person,” does not preclude a “hearing taking place ‘in person’ by virtual means.” ICC Guidance, Art. 23. In May 2020, HKIAC issued Guidelines for Virtual Hearings. In June 2020, the Vienna International Arbitration Centre released the “Vienna Protocol—A Practical Checklist for Remote Hearings.” In August 2020, the LCIA released an update to its LCIA Arbitration Rules, specifically allowing for any hearing to be held virtually. LCIA Arbitration Rules 2020, Art. 19.2.

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