The Sixth Sarajevo Arbitration Day, the most important annual event for the arbitration community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), gathered world class experts to discuss International Arbitration in the Aftermath of Covid-19 – Opportunities for Better Arbitration.
The Covid-19 pandemic transformed our lives and changed the way we work, learn, socialize and conduct our daily life. Dispute resolution is no exception to the new norms, as parties are unable and often unwilling to be physically present for oral hearings regardless of the safety measures. Courts all around the world have been fighting to establish viable solutions to prevent additional backlog of cases, often lacking the adequate infrastructure and personnel to conduct proceedings in a virtual setting via video conferencing.
International arbitration, on the other hand, has been the preferred dispute resolution mechanism of commercial parties worldwide due to its adaptability and flexibility which enables the parties to conduct efficient and effective proceedings under any circumstances, in accordance with their agreement.
Video conferencing platforms also fortified and expanded their functionalities to accommodate the increasing level of complexity and importance of the work being done online. The stakes are particularly high in ensuring the data security and confidentiality in the proceedings, as well as the due process rights of the parties in the proceedings. There are also concerns about dilatory tactics and improper conduct of some parties during evidentiary hearings which may hinder the integrity and legitimacy of the virtual hearings.
On the other hand, the increased use of virtual hearings also brings about numerous opportunities for improvements in arbitration practice, most of which have been on the reform agenda for years, but could be significantly accelerated in the Covid-19 era. In addition, the growing number of claims raised in the aftermath of Covid-19, the parties will be able to appoint some less-known but highly qualified arbitrators, due to the reduced availability of the repeat players.
Finally, on a larger scale, the Covid-19 restrictions allow the arbitration community to re-think the existing travel habits and to reduce their carbon footprint, thus significantly contributing to the protection of the environment.
Therefore, the Covid-19 era brought about both risks and opportunities for international arbitration, and we are yet to see which side will prevail in the aftermath of this crisis.
The Sixth Sarajevo Arbitration Day was dedicated to exploring the new normal in international arbitration with an emphasis on the opportunities for permanent positive changes which can be made during these challenging times. In a series of short presentations, the world’s leading experts in international arbitration shared their unique insights into the present and future of international arbitration. The first half of the conference will be dedicated to the „big-picture“ changes and opportunities in international arbitration in the aftermath of Covid-19, while the second half will reflect some specific implications of online hearings, as well as initiatives currently pursued to seize the benefits of online interactions in the field.
More details on the content of the Sixth Sarajevo Arbitration Day are available here: Booklet Sixth Sarajevo Arbitration Day
An overview of the main conclusions of the conference are available here: KAB Post: Six Lessons from the Sixth Sarajevo Arbitration Day – Kluwer Arbitration Blog