International firm Covington & Burling has launched a pioneering commercial arbitration app.
Jeremy Wilson, arbitration partner based at the firm’s London office, said the free app “takes all the key resources and consolidates them into a single resource that allows users to bookmark and annotate texts”.
He said the Arbitration Handbook app had been downloaded in over 80 countries in the two weeks since its launch.
“There have been so many updates of arbitration rules over the last few years that book resources become obsolete very quickly,” Mr Wilson said.
“You make a big effort to put it together and it’s no longer relevant. This is a single source which we can update in real time”.
Mr Wilson said that although the app was launched only a couple of weeks ago, it had already needed to be updated.
He said that, as of Friday last week, the app had been downloaded over 1,245 times, with an average user session time of five minutes.
“We debated whether to charge for it, but the materials we are sharing are publicly available materials,” Mr Wilson said.
“We do, however, require users to register with us before they can benefit from the annotating, highlighting and bookmarking facilities,” he said. “As lawyers, we are often annotating rules before we go into hearings”.
Mr Wilson said the app covered the arbitration laws of over 15 countries, including the USA, UK, China, Sweden, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brasil. He said Spain and Canada would be considered for inclusion at a later date.
Asked whether huge rises in commercial court fees in England and Wales would drive commercial clients towards arbitration, Mr Wilson said confidentiality and finality were more important to his clients than cost.
“There may be an increase in domestic arbitrations,” he said. “In many large commercial transactions, the parties have already included an arbitration clause.”
Mr Wilson added that a further advantage of arbitration, often the most important, was location in a neutral jurisdiction.