Business disputes are among the many issues being faced by SMEs amid the economic impact of the pandemic. As companies experience difficulties paying their bills, or even insolvency, this is also creating the potential for disputes with business partners.
However, technology advances have opened the opportunity for disputes to be resolved online. This is usually much quicker and cheaper, and gives SMEs another way of settling disputes and possibly avoiding debt. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the need for such Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platforms, as they also reduce the need for face-to-face contact.
As ODR platforms begin to emerge, Hong Kong is taking the lead in Asia. Besides their usefulness in solving disputes during the pandemic, ODR platforms have been given a boost by the Hong Kong Government.
In her Policy Address delivered in November, Chief Executive Carrie Lam once again highlighted the Hong Kong Legal Cloud (HKLC) initiative. This is a state-of-the-art online facility equipped with advanced information security technology, to provide secure, reliable and affordable data storage services for the local legal and dispute resolution sector. The Government is also supporting other LawTech initiatives to promote the overall long-term development of Hong Kong's legal and dispute resolution services.
LawTech is expected to be a key development for Hong Kong's legal sector. To keep members up to date, the Chamber has invited representatives from eBRAM International Online Dispute Resolution Centre to speak at a webinar on the development of ODR platforms and the related businesses trends in the APEC region.