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Legal Tech in Arbitration


One of the roles of legal technology (Legal Tech) in arbitration is the provision of rapid insight into the results of law and fact scenarios. This allows arbitrators to endorse more reliable settlement approaches. Legal Tech has been used in arbitration for case management such as obtaining the meaning from files, identifying patterns in disputes, and identifying sentiments like dishonesty. The speed at which assessments can be made and the low cost that Legal Tech offers is highly attractive to law firms since it allows them to provide clients with value for money and attract more work.

Recent Developments

  • DoNotPay.com is a robot lawyer originally created to contest parking fines. It has successfully appealed £3million parking tickets in the US and UK. 
  • Legal Utopia is a website which can identify legal problems and provide guidance for resolution. 
  • Ebay provides an online process for dispute resolution.
  • IBM Project Debater is an argumentation instrument which evaluates an argument’s persuasiveness supporting in the decision-making process.
  • DisputesEfiling is an online management tool for arbitration and mediation cases designed by litigators for litigators. It provides real-time data streaming and generates the volumes of anonymised data required in the analysis of outcomes.  
  • International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution helped in the development of Cyber-Security Protocol for International Arbitration and is providing training in cyber-security for their arbitrator panel.
  • The Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with Thomson Reuters, has built their own secure platform for administration of cases.

Current Limitations

Artificial intelligence relies on access to large amounts of high-quality data to be able to firstly, train itself on evidence, and consequently, produce efficient and reliable results for the end-user. Even with the most capable hardware, without access to high quality data, it can be useless. 

The progress of Legal Tech in arbitration has been dampened by the limited data available. The lack of data feed in Legal Tech platforms limits the volume of data available for processing. To date, DisputesEfiling is the only platform with data feed capacity. Additionally, the confidential nature of proceedings restricts the availability of cases to the public and privacy laws requires data to be anonymised before publishing, adding to the complexity.

Legal Tech is also not objective since it is coded by humans, who in nature, are not immune to bias. The quality of the input data will therefore impact the reliability and quality of resulting outcomes, may it be an advice, decision or argument.

Furthermore, the fact/law matrix utilised in arbitration to assess the weight and credibility of an evidence is highly complex and is also subject to change. It is questionable whether computers will be able to reach the processing power required to replace a human arbitrator and nimble enough to self-regulate with future legislation changes.

The Future

It is a fact that technology is now a permanent fixture in the legal sector and is currently at work in the field of arbitration where quick and cheap advice is always welcomed by arbitrators and customers alike. If Legal Tech is to grow further, training will be necessary in understanding the technology and maximise its potential. There will be a need for law firms to employ technologists to be able to do this, which then boils down to one of the main factors of innovation, money. The availability of funding to support legal sectors in engaging with legal technology and its development will dictate the pace of progress in this area. As with any new technology, their uptake time can take years, even decades.

Whether technology can replace human arbitrators is a question that cannot yet be answered. The accessibility of data needs to increase significantly, and data processing needs to advance further to enable Legal Tech to grow as quickly as possible. Perhaps arbitration will in the future look like an e-disclosure system where data can be made readily available and automatically fed into a data processing network. Additionally, computers lack the human element of trust and confidentiality that is important to the law profession. It appears that for now, Legal Tech has still a long way to go to be fully capable of replacing human arbitrators.

Jan Mary Baloyo