Canadian Lawyer

July 2021

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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Page 37 of 51

36 BUSINESS STRATEGY TOP 10 ARBITRATION CHAMBERS SPECIAL REPORT LAST YEAR at this time, mediators and arbitrators cautiously navigated the ins and outs of a legal system dealing with COVID- 19. They were trying to figure out protocols and technologies that rarely, if at all, had been used. But as the pandemic lingers on, those on Canadian Lawyer's Top 10 list of arbitration chambers say they are "all in" on a system that incorporates many of the virtual and electronic practices that have got us through COVID-19 so far. workable. While concerned at the beginning that online cross-examination was challen- ging, Marshall says participants have found proceedings quite effective, improving with practice. "For example, unlike live hearings where the focus of the witness shifts between the cross-examiner and the tribunal, with a virtual hearing the witness is focused directly at the camera, thus making it easier to 'read' the witness." The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology, says Paul Torrie of Toron- to-based Global Resolutions. "The most obvious example is the use of video conferen- cing platforms." Jack Marshall, a lawyer with Western Arbitration Chambers in Calgary, says: "While doing arbitration hearings virtually has been technically possible for some time, it is only with the pandemic and the inability of parties to gather in a hearing room that virtual hearings became the only alternative to simply adjourning the hearing until an uncertain future date when the pandemic is over." To the surprise of many, he adds, counsel and witnesses find virtual hearings to be Clients turning to arbitration as courts deal with backlog of cases USE OF COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION IN CANADA Source: Westlaw/Thomson Reuters Arbitration clauses are standard in many commercial contracts, including: Construction and engineering contracts Shareholders' agreements Business acquisitions Franchise agreements Technology and intellectual property licensing agreements "I think that virtual hearings are here to stay for at least a percentage of arbitrations going forward." Kim Neeson, Neeson Arbitration Chambers

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