Among the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on legal systems is an increase in the number of arbitration hearings being conducted virtually rather than in person. The 12th edition of Mayer Brown's Global International Arbitration Update, released in January 2021, shines a light on this and other ways in which the pandemic is changing how arbitrations are conducted around the world. Topics include:

  • The launch of a new online portal by eBRAMin Hong Kong for the settlement of local and global disputes related to the pandemic.
  • Technological advancements in the international arbitration arena that have resulted from the pandemic, such as online case management platforms and the launch of a draft protocol for online case management in international arbitration.
  • The 2020 International Arbitration Surveyfrom the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University of London, which delves into how international arbitration has adapted to COVID-19. (Results will be published in May 2021.)
  • An increase in virtual hearings, as reported by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) in its October 2020 survey on virtual hearings. Since the pandemic's outbreak in March 2020, nearly 40 percent of the hearings in SCC arbitration cases have been conducted online. Arbitrators reported a generally positive experience with some hesitations around technology, loss of human interaction and the assessment of witnesses.
  • In what appears to be the first reported US court decision to address the issue in the context of the pandemic, an Illinois federal court denied a request to enjoin a remote arbitration hearing. Legaspy v. Fin. Indus. Regulatory Auth., Inc., 20 C 4700, 2020 WL 4696818 (N.D. Ill.).

Our Global International Arbitration Update is a bi-annual publication that summarizes key events in international arbitration from the preceding six months. It covers both commercial and investor-State arbitration developments from around the globe.

January 27, 2021

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This Mayer Brown article provides information and comments on legal issues and developments of interest. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.