Online Dispute Resolution under COVID-19: The Practice of Major Arbitral Institutions in China
COVID-19 and International Economic Law: China and a Changing World, Singapore: Academy Publishing, Forthcoming
Posted: 10 Sep 2021 Last revised: 17 Sep 2021
Date Written: 2021
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic imposes severe impacts on people’s economic, cultural and social life. In light of dispute resolution, the requirement for social distancing challenges the traditional form of dispute resolution, whereas promotes the implementation of ODR. As a vital component of ODR, online arbitration has been evolving rapidly in China and the rest of the world. The major Chinese arbitration institutions, CIETAC, BAC, SCIA and CMAC, act proactively in response to the challenges arise from COVID-19. Examining the practice of the major Chinese arbitral institutions in accordance with online arbitration rules or provisional guidelines during COVID-19, there are both experiences already gained and lessons to be learned. On one hand, the major arbitral institutions in China obtained experiences through their practice in terms of online case filing, online exchanges of case documents, virtual hearing, partial award, etc.; on the other hand, however, they are also faced with the legal barriers with relevance to the legitimacy of virtual hearing and confidentiality of online arbitration. Compared with the jurisdictions beyond Mainland China with regard to their experiences in online arbitration during or prior to COVID-19, Chinese Arbitration Law is supposed to recognize the legitimacy of virtual hearing and assign less weight to the parties’ consent in the arbitral institution’s determination concerning virtual hearing; and the Chinese arbitral institutions are required to provide more protections related to confidentiality through measures for identity verification and information security.
Keywords: Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), COVID-19, online arbitration, arbitration institutions
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