An online platform, described by its creator as “the only one in the world” to allow arbitrations to be conducted entirely on the internet, has launched with a pilot personal injury scheme.
Solicitor Tony Guise said his platform eARB was handling over 20 cases as part of a pilot scheme developed by the Personal Injury Claims Arbitration Service (PlcARBS) and launched in November last year.
Mr Guise said a dozen claimant personal injury firms were involved, including Slater & Gordon, Hodge Jones & Allen, Shoosmiths and Minster Law, alongside defendant insurance specialist Clyde & Co and insurer AXA.
He said there was no reason why the system could not build up the caseload to the “low thousands” over the next five years, though its focus was on cases worth over £25,000.
“This is a way of avoiding the high costs and well-known problems of the litigation system,” Mr Guise said. “It’s got off to a good start.
“From start to finish, everything can be conducted in the Cloud. It’s possible to have paperless hearings, with interlocutory applications by phone and everyone accessing the documents online. Options for saving money and speeding up justice are here now.”
Mr Guise said service could be carried out by email, and a redacted form of rulings would be published on the platform, so case law could be built up – an issue that senior judges had mentioned in recent speeches.
The solicitor said he had approached NHS Resolution, which was looking at the arbitration scheme alongside its own mediation scheme for medical negligence cases.
Mr Guise said eARB was also “in discussions” to set up a service for commercial arbitrations, and he was having a further meeting with the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators later this month.
He said that after closing his City law firm in 2016, he had concentrated on his work as director of eARB, and spoken to arbitration centres across the world, including Singapore, Paris and New York.
“You would think they already have this kind of thing, but they don’t.”
He described the development of online dispute resolution in the UK as a disappointment and said he did not think the online courts initiative would have an impact on arbitration.
“There’s no real threat to us from online courts, and they’re highly unlikely to get going. There is very little happening at the moment.”
PIcARBs was set up by personal injury silk Andrew Ritchie QC in June 2015, designed particularly for cases worth over £50,000.