Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Commercial Dispute Resolution: A Global Perspective


Recently the International Bar Association has demarcated the changing practice that has been introduced in commercial dispute resolution due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has reflected on the study of substantive and temporary laws as well as its regulations, which have been incorporated during this pandemic across twenty-three nations. The study shows how developing and developed nations have welcomed or have come across different forms of challenges while practicing the “new normal” approach by using technology.

It is to be noted that the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law has highlighted the concept of ODR. Under this emphasis has been made on the practice of resolving disputes by using electronic communications and using other information as well as communication technology. Interestingly in 2021 and 2020, this Commission has reflected on the use of dispute resolution while using the digital economy for practicing their future programs. To have a check on conducting litigation guidelines have been issued. It has been observed that arbitral institutions have played a significant role in this pandemic as they have issued guidelines on the way the arbitral proceedings should take place. For instance, it has elaborated on how online arbitral hearings can take place. It seems that few nation’s laws have permitted award’s enforcement by following the online process wholly.

(i) Developed Nation

Singapore: The Supreme Court as well as the state court has allowed certain types of hearings, which can be in-process and would be conducted by online mode, and has also mentioned that all others have to be under physical presence. For instance, when there are civil trials and their hearings the witness can be examined in the state courts and the videoconferencing can take place when all the parties consent to it. Moreover, when the matter is in the Supreme Court under this situation the whole trial or hearing can be done by online mode. The courts can have total control over deciding what types of specific hearings can be conducted online among one or more parties. With the introduction of “pilot programs,” an effort has been made to welcome the practice of ‘online hearing’ to lessen the burden of the court. The aim is to have court services, which would promote the use of online mode.

(ii) Emerging Nation

Egypt: The courts are encouraged to value the presence of virtual courts while delivering their judgments. By adopting precautionary steps emphasis has been made on ensuring proper functioning of the ongoing proceeding and filling process. Conducting virtual hearings shows the ODR services have been boosted up in this country. By introducing the Egyptian Centre for Voluntary Arbitration and Settlement of Non-Banking Financial Dispute along with mediation and arbitration rules through December 2020 decree now electronic registry is possible concerning mediation or arbitration procedure. An Arbitral tribunal can examine the witness virtually. Even online memorials, statements of claims, defence statements can be submitted by online mode.

This reflects several nations have welcomed many changes in their legal system. Among them has been to encourage the use of conducting online proceedings. Such practice has indulged these nations in enhancing the practice of arbitration as well as mediation. Despite this, there is an urgent need to have a transparent and efficient mechanism that could uplift the performance of this system where at the moment global multilateral agencies are making an effort.