Remote hearings succeed at CAM-CCBC

Through remote communication tools, proceedings are safe and quick

By Sérgio Siscaro

The need to avoid agglomerations during the pandemic of the new coronavirus has led CAM-CCBC to adopt remote service procedures through remote communication tools – and the results have been very positive. This is reflected in the continuity of the Center’s procedures, both in mediation and arbitration cases.

The virtual development of CAM-CCBC activities was planned through administrative resolutions that established guidelines for the 100% digital administration of proceedings and remote service by e-mail and/or telephone.

Prior to that, the Center already provided the tools for when parties chose a digital arbitration proceeding until the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal, or even when one of the participants of a meeting or hearing was unable to attend in person.

“Arbitration is a means of conflict resolution which main characteristics are celerity and flexibility. For this reason, CAM-CCBC never thought of simply suspending proceedings without offering an alternative for their continuity”, said Cristiane Gertel, coordinator of the Centers’s Secretariat. According to her, about 30 successful arbitration hearings and mediation sessions have been held since March, when remote activities began.

She says CAM-CCBC case management teams were already used to remote communication tools in proceedings. In addition, the Information Technology (IT) area of the Center had already approved the Microsoft Teams as the main tool for virtual meetings. Therefore, when government authorities established social isolation, CAM-CCBC was ready to maintain its activities.

Technical support

All arbitration hearings and mediation sessions are assisted by CAM-CCBC’s IT area – in order to ensure not only the correct functioning of remote communication tools, but also to ensure that no problem occurs in the connection of each participant. “To avoid problems, our IT team performs connection testing before meetings, preventing unforeseen complications. This has guaranteed that we can gather up to 40 people in a hearing without recording any technical problem”, says case manager Marina Gouveia.

She says that the participants themselves expressed a need to use the popular Zoom tool for the hearings. “We use Microsoft Teams because it is considered safer by our IT area. However, we have acquired a Zoom license that includes communication encryption in order to prevent possible hacking intrusions”, adds Gouveia.

Approved solution

The hearings’ migration to the virtual space has been well received by participants. “At first people were a little afraid of how the remote hearings would work – but today the choice for it is almost unanimous. Arbitral tribunals are planning the entire schedule to be followed, which makes the parties more comfortable with the proceedings. And the support of our IT team allows us to identify any problems – and solve them”, says the case manager.

Gertel agrees and believes that the benefits of the virtual approach should lead clients to continue using remote hearings, even after the end of the pandemic. “One of the advantages is that it reduces the proceeding’s costs – which usually include services resulting from face-to-face meetings, such as receptionists, catering, stenotyping and, eventually, air travel and hosting expenses of arbitrators from other cities”, she evaluates.

She also points out that remote hearings reflect the differentiated way that CAM acts in proceedings, that is, providing logistical and administrative support for all participants in the proceedings in order to ensure efficiency and cost-benefit. “The case manager acts as the host and manages the entire process. This is essential, so that attorneys and arbitrators may be exclusively concerned with the case”.

Instructions for use

For greater organization and transparency regarding meetings, arbitration hearings, mediation sessions and other remote occasions, the Center has published two documents on its website: Notes on CAM-CCBC remote meetings and audiences and Notes on CAM-CCBC Virtual Communications and Meetings.

These documents provide explanations and recommendations for all participants involved, addressing, among others, the technical requirements for a better connection, items indispensable to the prior planning and document sharing procedures.