Posted on: 27 March 2020
In the continuing COVID-19 crisis and lockdown, LMAA arbitrators are continuing to hear cases using virtual hearing room arrangements developed in conjunction with the International Dispute Resolution Centre and Opus 2. Parties are being encouraged to investigate seriously the facilities available for this, using proven technology. Recent cases have shown that it is perfectly feasible (and sometimes cheaper) for witnesses in their own locations to give live evidence by video conferencing facilities, using documents in electronic bundles. It is possible to extend this by remote transcription and by counsel and arbitrators taking part in the hearing also using remote technology in an efficient and effective way. Information is available on the websites of the IDRC and Opus 2.
Similar facilities are available in the Commercial Court where many cases are being heard by telephone or virtual hearings. The Business and Property Courts (which now include the Commercial Court) have made it clear that parties should look to proceed in this way rather than seeking adjournments unless absolutely necessary.
Ian Gaunt (pictured), President of the LMAA said: “ The current situation is now making parties investigate techniques and technologies for remote hearings which, in the longer term, will undoubtedly make the way in which international cases can be conducted in London more efficient and ultimately more environmentally friendly.”