In this round of Arbitration Tips-N-Tools, Professor Amy Schmitz asks some of the leading arbitration practitioners about making online arbitration (OArb) more personal for participants, especially in a digital world, and faced with the complexities of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Round 21: What advice do you have to make online arbitration (OArb) more personal for participants?
A) Olof Heggemann –
When working in court, witnesses and others were many times intimated when “logging in” to a full courtroom even more attending remote. It is time-consuming, but introductions and presentations of the participants make digital hearings less stressful. It is of course time consuming to do these introductions (and very tiring for everyone in the courtroom hearing them all over again). One way around this could be sending witnesses and others attendants a short introduction on who they will meet when logging in. A good solution could also be to make sure the legal representatives brief witnesses on the procedure and attendants, beforehand.
B) Oladeji M. Tiamiyu –
With less of your body shown, the visible part of your body becomes even more important for non-verbal communication in OArb. Be mindful of this and try to use the visible non-verbal cues in an engaging manner.
Cutting off participants during in-person arbitration is already awkward enough. The awkwardness is amplified to a whole new degree in OArb so try to limit this. In addition to being awkward, the minimum non-verbal communication in OArb can lead to participants over-analyzing an arbitrator cutting them off. This makes patience a critical asset to build rapport.
In online processes, there can be a temptation to make streamlining the process a primary aim. This should be resisted when trying to build rapport. Provide ample time for parties to fully explain the context and ensure that you, as the arbitrator, identify the nuances in the proceedings.
C) Myriam Seers –
I think that having a first procedural meeting over a video conferencing platform is key, as is making sure that the parties themselves attend, rather than just their lawyers.
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