The use of “online client portals” or other “fileshare” programmes have widely become accepted by lawyers and clients alike as the most convenient and secure way of providing and storing electronic documents relevant to a corporate transaction or disputes. Uploading materials to a secure site means that parties no longer need to fear loss of confidential information through attachment-heavy emails going awry, memory drives going missing or being stolen, or hard copy documents never reaching their intended destination.
For courts and arbitral institutions, they too are embracing technology to allow parties to conduct dispute resolution by more efficient (and “paperless”) means. For example, filing submissions electronically is now widely used in many of the Business & Property courts around the UK, and is a feature of some arbitration rules such as those of the London Court of International Arbitration.
However, the announcement in May by the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (“the SCC”) that they would be introducing a cloud-based “SCC Platform” marked a further step forward in the modernisation of dispute resolution processes. Starting in September 2019, all arbitrations administered by the SCC will be done so on this secure platform and each one will have its own secure site upon which formal case-related documents, such as communications with the SCC, procedural orders, submissions and exhibits, will be stored. Once uploaded to the Platform, only the parties and the arbitrator(s) will be able to access these materials, which can be downloaded and printed, but cannot be removed or amended. The principal advantage of arbitration being that it is a confidential process, the SCC is keen to stress that the Platform adopts technology that is trusted by over 250 law firms, and therefore ought to assuage any fears over cybersecurity, and the risk of hacking.
To those familiar with “fileshare” systems, the adoption of such a portal seems like an obvious step forward, yet as far as the authors are aware, the SCC is the only arbitral institution to offer this specific service. We expect that other arbitral institutions, and international court systems alike, will be monitoring the user experience of the SCC Platform once it goes live. The SCC is one of the leading fora for international dispute resolution (and is the second largest in the world for investment treaty arbitrations). Given the position and status of the SCC in international arbitration, we anticipate other institutions will start to offer a similar service in the very near future.
For any further information, contact Michael Stocks or your usual S&B contact.