The recent opening of Maxwell Chambers Suites in Singapore demonstrates the ongoing demand for international arbitration services in APAC. Not only has there been continued growth, but arbitration in the region has been on a trajectory of change and growth for some time and is increasingly operating with more efficiency. Innovation and technology are at the heart of this evolution.
We have seen arbitration cases become more complex and multi-jurisdictional over time. In response to this, technology solutions that assist in managing these cases have gradually become more prevalent in APAC. The 2018 International Arbitration Survey (White & Case), demonstrates that arbitrators are invested in the idea that technology will impact on how international arbitration develops and are currently adopting technology options.
Arbitration and eDiscovery
90% of the world’s Electronically Stored Information (ESI) or data has been generated in the last two years. As a result, lawyers are having to review much larger document sets. Manual review methods are no longer practical or cost-effective, so they are turning to eDiscovery and technology assisted review methods instead.
New technology tools have enabled counsel to become more cost-effective and price themselves more competitively. This has been achieved by making the document review process more time-efficient. Tools such as de-duplication, email threading and complex key word searching makes the process more rapid and streamlined.
How will eDiscovery continue to impact the arbitration profession going forward? We foresee that technology will strongly influence and transform how arbitrators manage ESI. Exciting innovations like predictive coding tools allow legal teams to find groups of ‘concepts’ in large data sets, which is very useful when the use of keywords does not capture everything that is pertinent. The evidence review process can also be sped up by using predictive coding. This tool uses artificial intelligence to learn decision making patterns and then apply them to the data set. Substantial time efficiencies can be gained during the document review without losing the confidence of the tribunals and parties in the veracity of the method.
Implementing eDiscovery in the disclosure of ESI can necessitate vigilant preparation by the parties and be complicated, but there is a growing recognition by international arbitration tribunals of these tools. Making the effort to work with the tribunal and parties at an early stage to outline the scope of electronic disclosure is the best way to ensure the arbitration runs efficiently, regardless of the power of the eDiscovery tools used. Therefore, it is necessary to plan well ahead and an eDiscovery protocol can assist with this process. eDiscovery providers, who know the workflow through every phase of the arbitration, can help set this up.
In November 2018, there was an encouraging development in the advancement of technology in streamlining international arbitration, for eDiscovery and other technologies – and not just in eDiscovery. The HKIAC Administered Arbitration Rules came into force and established technology as a factor to be taken into consideration by an arbitral tribunal when ascertaining appropriate procedures for the management of an arbitration.
Cloud-based Workspace & eBundle
Cloud-based data storage and shared workspaces is becoming a favoured system for collaboration for international arbitrators working across multiple offices and jurisdictions. Arbitrators can save time on creating and sharing copies of documents by revising and making real-time amendments, which leads to increased efficiency. Producing an eBundle or electronic court book with hyperlinking to each document is simple to accomplish if the documents are in an electronic format and uploaded into a workspace.
The international arbitration landscape will continue to develop as arbitrators and counsel increasingly embrace the available technology to constantly improve the practice of arbitration, ie. settling disputes quickly and efficiently. Expert providers are available to assist and with careful planning, arbitrators and counsel can look positively into the future of international arbitration.
 2018 International Arbitration Survey, White & Case