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Love them or hate them: Virtual hearings are here to stay

Commercial dispute resolution has undergone a forced revolution during 2020, with courts and arbitral tribunals in many major jurisdictions responding to social restrictions put in place to control the spread of coronavirus by introducing technological solutions.

Most notably, there has been a global increase in virtual hearings, which has challenged the way formal court and arbitration proceedings have previously been conducted for large commercial cases.

We recently conducted a survey of our disputes lawyers globally and our network of advocate contacts. The aim was to get a sense of how the profession is reacting to the substantial changes it has seen and whether the continued use of virtual hearings in the longer term is likely to be beneficial, or detrimental, to the interests of litigants and the administration of justice. The views expressed varied widely but what was clear is that these questions are playing on the minds of many in the legal sector. We received responses from people with experience of litigating in courts and tribunals in more than 15 countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the United States, to name a few. In this article, we discuss the widely varying responses we received and what this might mean for the future of virtual hearings around the globe.

This article cites data gathered by A&O in surveys conducted June-August 2020 of over 300 legal professionals.

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