How to resolve your dispute in the information age.

The 21st century is the information age; Moore’s Law observes that every two years the processing speeds of computers double. This exponential evolution opens doors for new players and puts pressure on established operators to adapt or die.

Litigation and dispute resolution may conjure up images of old fashioned leather-bound books and men in wigs, but technology can be leveraged to transform your dispute so that it resolves quicker, at less cost and with less impact on your business.

Technology provides opportunities for resolution at every stage of a dispute

For most disputes, the best outcomes (in terms of time, cost and relationships) are achieved through negotiation, mediation or arbitration. Businesses who understand this can shape their contracts to include mandatory alternative dispute resolution procedures. Advances in technology mean there are new options available, including ‘online dispute resolution’ (‘ODR’).

In ODR, the technology acts as the ‘fourth party’ to the dispute (complementing you, your opponent and the independent person). It helps manage the dispute resolution process by organising documents, setting timelines, blocking inappropriate communication and clarifying priorities.  In effect, the technology reduces the time you have to spend on the dispute, freeing you to concentrate on agreeing a positive outcome.

Even if you are taking steps to agree an outcome, sometimes a dispute won’t resolve before ‘discovery’ (where each party has to disclose all its relevant documents to the other side), one of the most time consuming and costly aspects of litigation. Discovery is expensive because modern disputes usually involve large volumes of paper due to the widespread use of electronic data (think of how many emails you send every day and extrapolate that over several months and across your business).

E-Discovery software is a technological solution to this technology-driven problem. It uses artificial intelligence to exclude reams of irrelevant information can predict key documents and categorises documents to save time and reduce manpower requirements all of which can reduce unneccesary costs.

Understanding the scope and risks of your dispute at an early stage empowers you to make the decisions that will resolve it faster. You can achieve this by undertaking an Early Case Assessment. This is the Kain process whereby we review your documents and speak to key witnesses to analyse your dispute and recommend a strategy.

Technology can be used to improve your outcomes,  for example:

  • eDiscovery software can reduce the time and cost of the assessment;
  • decision-tree software visually shows you the different paths your dispute can take and what decisions are more likely to be successful; and
  • project management software gives you confidence that your lawyers are proactive and within budget.

 

If you do end up in court, you can opt for an ‘electronic courtroom’. This can involve video-conferencing for witnesses, large screens for displaying exhibits, real-time electronic transcript and electronic access to documents. E-Courtrooms are designed to be more efficient and can result in fewer days in trial.

Using technology in your dispute means buy-in from both business and lawyers

Investing in technology can be seen (by both business and lawyers alike) as unnecessary, but using technology to better manage the complexity, time, cost and uncertainty of your dispute is well worth considering. Businesses uncertain about taking this step should remember that machines are (generally) smarter and more reliable than humans.

In the 21st century, having a dispute no longer means having to write a blank cheque and hope for the best. 21st century technology can help your lawyers work with you to achieve the result you want.

If you would like to discuss using technology in your disputes, contact us.