IT, a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Marcel Verhagen, maritime lawyer at Rotterdam and chairman of the management board of UNUM, presented a paper at the ICMA2020 conference in Rio de Janeiro in March 2020. Marcel raised the question what will be the place of arbitration in the modern world of information technology (IT), algorithms and blockchain.

Will the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the modern forms of communications and the concept of blockchain have an upswing or downswing on arbitration?

In his paper, Marcel dealt with the potential impact of various issues of modern technology on arbitration and also the possible effect of legal economics on arbitration. Will in the end economics win from justice?

When asked about response from the audience to his presentation, Marcel said:

In general there was a perception that the modern technologies will be of assistance to the world of dispute resolution. The meaning of the presentation was however that arbitration as a form of dispute resolution is not likely to be overhauled by AI. Not because of the present legislation and not because of the fact that AI is at this moment not able to see all the shades of grey when deciding on a dispute.

UNUM already took the first step in using IT for arbitration in 2008 by introducing E-arbitration.

What is E-arbitration?

Arbitration is a manner to resolve disputes by one or more private persons acting as a judge (the arbitrators). E-arbitration refers to the use of electronic means like e-mail and electronic file management systems to be used through the internet.

UNUM offers an online arbitration platform since the year 2008. This platform facilitates faster and more efficient arbitration proceedings. UNUM was one of the early adopters, if not the first, of this form of E-arbitration.

Based on experience from the various users of the E-arbitration facility since 2008, UNUM developed an even more user friendly system that is available since 2018.

Why E-arbitration?

E-arbitrage is particularly time and cost saving.

  • Parties and arbitrators as well as the secretariat of UNUM can share their correspondence, invoices and documents in a secure part of the UNUM website.
  • Each arbitration case can be approached via unique passwords only and stakeholders have access to arbitration documents of their own case only.
  • All stakeholders of a case get automatically notified by e-mail when new documents in a specific arbitration file have been uploaded. Arbitration proceedings can so be conducted effectively and quickly.
  • Anywhere in the world all documents will be available simultaneously.
  • Providing documents in five hard copies and paying courier expenses will not be needed anymore, resulting in significant time and cost savings.
  • Based on experience of users of the system the dashboard for using E-arbitration will be updated on a regular basis, resulting in improvement of the system.
  • The UNUM Arbitration Rules now prescribe use of E-arbitration as standard way of conducting the proceedings.
  • If required, parties may get a digital copy of the complete E-arbitration file upon finalizing of the proceedings.

UNUM shows on a daily basis that IT is useful to parties, arbitrators and the UNUM secretariat, but at the same time that arbitration is still human work.

Marcel’s Power Point Presentation can be found here.

He would be happy to reply to any questions or to discuss any issues or suggestions regarding the subject. Marcel’s e-mail address: .