SCC publishes report on virtual hearing survey conducted amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

SCC publishes report on virtual hearing survey conducted amid coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) has issued a report based on a survey conducted in October 2020 to learn more about the virtual hearings in relevant SCC arbitrations. The survey findings indicate a generally positive experience of the virtual hearings, despite some hesitations around technology and the assessment of witnesses. Despite that, most of the arbitrators surveyed were positive about using virtual hearings going forward, both during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The report also suggests the pandemic has forced a positive change on the international arbitration landscape with time, convenience and cost benefits.

To learn more about the virtual hearings taking place in SCC arbitrations, the SCC conducted a survey in October 2020. The survey was sent to arbitrators appointed in arbitrations in the pre-hearing stage as at 15 March 2020 or in proceedings initiated after that date. Responses were received from arbitrators in 78 cases conducted during the coronavirus pandemic, 61 of which had reached the post-hearing stage at the time of the survey. Of those 61 cases, 30 were disputes involving only Swedish parties, and 31 were international arbitrations. Two thirds were disputes under the SCC Arbitration Rules and one third under the SCC Rules for Expedited Arbitration. None of the cases related to disputes that were caused by coronavirus, but one dispute was aggravated or accelerated because of it.

Of the 61 arbitrations that had been completed at the time of the survey, a virtual hearing had been held in 23 cases. Only four cases were decided on the documents, and four disputes were settled by the parties. An in-person hearing took place in as many as 30 arbitrations—20 involved only Swedish parties and ten were international cases. The survey notes that the relatively high share of in-person hearings should be viewed in the context of Sweden’s experience of the coronavirus pandemic.

The report highlights that there was a steep increase in the number of virtual hearings during the coronavirus pandemic and arbitrators are generally satisfied with their virtual hearing experience in the relevant 23 cases both from a procedural and technology standpoint, scoring 4.4 and 4.6 out of 5 respectively. The survey showed that the video conferencing tool most used for virtual hearings was Microsoft Teams (50%), followed by Zoom (25%).

Although overall virtual hearings were positively received, the survey showed that that five of the 23 virtual hearings were conducted over the objection of the respondent. Two of these cases were international arbitrations, and three involved only Swedish parties. One award has been challenged on grounds relating to the virtual hearing and is pending in the Svea Court of Appeal.

Read the report SCC Virtual Hearing Survey here.


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