The 10 major global trends in dispute resolution for 2020

Big trends include the globalisation of dispute resolution and the increasing use of technology

The 10 major global trends in dispute resolution for 2020

Baker McKenzie has pinpointed 10 major global trends in dispute resolution for 2020.

The findings come from The Year Ahead: Developments in Global Litigation and Arbitration in 2020, which was put together by the global firm’s dispute resolution team composed of more than 1,000 specialists across 77 offices.

The 10 major trends Baker McKenzie expects to emerge in dispute resolution this year largely involve the globalisation of dispute resolution, litigation funding, regulatory and political developments, and the use of technology.

Globalization of dispute resolution

Dispute resolution will become more global, Baker McKenzie said. It noted that six jurisdictions have launched “international” commercial courts in the last three years, but said that these projects are “slow burners,” with a 3.7-year average gap between announcement and first case. Baker McKenzie also said that there has been an increasing focus on new international courts, as well as suggestions for an international civil court for cross-border mass tort claims and an international tribunal for business and human rights cases.

Efforts to improve cross-border enforcement

Alongside globalisation of dispute resolution, the trend of improving cross-border enforcement will also continue, Baker McKenzie’s experts said. The most notable developments in this area are The Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, The Hague Judgments Convention, The Singapore Mediation Convention, and The New York Arbitral Convention.

Growing use of meditation

Baker McKenzie also expects use of mediation to grow. It observed that there is a growing trend of mandatory mediation, which has been used for some time in Australia, Italy, and the Philippines. Other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, are following suit, it said.

Litigation funding enters the mainstream

Although the use of litigation funding is increasing, it is not yet fully established, the global firm said. It observed, however, that there has been a bubble in the market in the last five years. It said that while shaky and marred by some failed listings and accounting controversies, the industry is here to stay and slowly entering the mainstream.

Growth of criminal and regulatory enforcement

Baker McKenzie’s dispute resolution experts noted that caseloads are growing in most major centres. In places where the number of cases has declined, the value of claims is still rising. The bigger picture can be seen in the rise of both volume of regulation and the number of laws imposing corporate and criminal liability, they said.

Political risks to investment

Political risk is not only seen in developing countries, where investors have long faced the risk of nationalisation, Baker McKenzie said. There has also been a rise in support for nationalisation in developed economies, for example in the UK and in the European Union. The firm expects political expropriation to drive increasing amounts of investment arbitration, as well as court litigation involving public law and human rights arguments.

New analytics tools for disputes lawyers

Baker McKenzie expects the use of the nascent technology of machine learning in dispute resolution to increase as benefits to lawyers, law firms, and litigation funders become even more noticed. However, these tools are not universally popular, it said.

New efficiency tools for lawyers

While some efficiency tools are already established in dispute resolution, other technologies will be more widely used. These tools include automated transcription, semi-automated research and drafting, and guided-workflow systems, Baker McKenzie said.

Emerging use of AI in national court systems

Examples of national courts interested in artificial intelligence include China’s courts, which has an AI system that provides judges with a first-draft suggested judgement, Baker McKenzie said. The Beijing Internet Court has a “robot judge” for “repetitive basic work,” while Estonian courts aim to launch a “robot judge” for small money claims.

Automated dispute resolution

Baker McKenzie also expects automated dispute resolution to continue its emergence. It said that there are different approaches to this development, including using AI algorithms such as the one Estonia wants to deploy this year for its small-claims “robot judge.” Another approach is to crowdsource decisions, relying on large networks of adjudicators to handle matters. Some platforms are focused on streamlining the settlement process, it said.

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