fully digital

With the adoption of processes that are 100% digital, CAM-CCBC confirms its pioneering work by offering more agility with greater environmental responsibility

 

by Antonio Biondi / Priscila Crispi

Justice delays, but it does not fail — as the popular saying goes. This expression is not entirely out of place, at least as regards the length of court proceedings. In Brazil, the average length of time a lawsuit filed with the Judiciary takes is 18 months in the hearing stage and 6 years and 1 month in the execution stage, and this is only in the lower courts; in the appellate courts, this average is added another 10 months, totaling up to 8 years and 5 months of waiting, according to data from the report “Justice in Numbers 2021”, released by Brazil´s National Council of Justice.

Over the last decades, the expectation for more celerity and for agreements that would be beneficial for all parties has fostered the search for extrajudicial mechanisms of conflict resolution, such as conciliation, mediation and arbitration. With regard to complex business disputes, arbitration has great prominence. The process is as binding as a court order and consists basically on the parties´ appointing an impartial and independent third party to adjudicate on the matter.

This practice became more widespread in Brazil with the enactment of Law No. 9,307/1996, also known as the “Arbitration Law”, which establishes the freedom of the parties to choose the general rules and principles of law to be applied, which may be based on custom and usage or on international trade rules. The Law underwent a reformulation in 2015, which formalized the possibility for public and direct administration entities to be parties in arbitration proceedings.

The digitalization of CAM – BCCC reaches its peak with the launch of their own proceedings management software , which should be available by mid – 2022

Founded in 1979, the Center for Arbitration and Mediation of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (CAM-BCCC) is the first and largest Brazilian entity for arbitration, mediation and it is responsible for a significant share of the arbitrations that take place in the country, involving local and foreign parties.

Long experience, however, is not the only factor that has turned CAM-BCCC into an international center of excellence in this area. Although operating in the legal sector, where players tend to be quite cautious in the adoption of innovations, the Center is at the forefront of arbitration proceedings digitization worldwide.

Since 2018, communications during the administrative stage of arbitration proceedings has been done electronically, and hearings and meetings can be held remotely. According to Cristiane Gertel, Coordinator of the CAM-BCCC Secretariat, the idea of digital access is related to the organization’s principles — efficiency, innovation and environmental responsibility — which also involve, for example, green arbitration and expedited arbitration. Therefore, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the digitization of processes was already an objective of the Center.

“With the pandemic, we had to turn the key: everyone had to start working from home and all processes were completely computerized. That’s when we turned the exception into a rule. However, because we are in many ways trailblazers, we were able to make this move very quickly,” says Cristiane.

Regina Alves, head of the BCCC Administrative Department, explains that this speed in digitizing the proceedings was due to the previous data protection infrastructure that was already being developed by the Chamber. “We are required by law to ensure confidentiality, as the arbitration process implies confidentiality and data security, protection from possible attacks, etc. We already had these structures in place, but they were at the testing stage. So, when we realized that the pandemic was going to last a long time, we issued a definitive resolution that regulated these aspects and, then and there, we became one of the first organizations in Brazil to go in this direction,” she proudly states.

The digitalization of CAM-BCCC reaches its peak with the launch of their own proceedings management software, which started to be developed in 2019 and should be available by mid-2022. “We have always dreamed of the parties having access to their proceedings, of having interactions between internal management and external users. And the new software will allow for all this”, celebrates Cristiane. “The idea of developing this software, its inspirations, these are things that are very endogenous to our organization, encompassing a very inclusive process that implies considering the needs of the parties, and tailored to the management style of CAM-BCCC”, she says.

In Regina’s view, the Center’s experience can once again become a showcase for the adoption of digital proceedings. “We are one of the leading organizations in the area of arbitration. When an innovative practice arises, the arbitration community awaits our position before deciding to take steps and adopting measures”, she compares.

Ecological footprint

Commitment to the environment is part of the evolution of arbitration

 In many sectors, digitization appears as not only an economically sound but also an environmentally responsible solution. The adoption of remote proceedings results in more celerity, more savings, more efficiency and, above all, less environmental impacts.

 Virtual communication makes it possible for all parties — the Arbitration Chamber, lawyers and the Arbitration Courts — to be simultaneously informed of the deadlines and progress of the proceedings, avoiding delays in the delivery of documents and high mailing costs. In addition, digitization makes it possible to hold many videoconference hearings, thus reducing transportation expenses. Finally, environmental impacts are considerably reduced thanks to less use of print material and less need for document storage.

 w“In addition to the costs of the legal proceedings, there is also a fund used to cover expenses from the arbitration proceedings, such as sending documents and holding hearings. With virtually conducted proceedings and remote hearings, the amounts needed from the expense fund have been falling,” says Gilberto Paglia Júnior, Case Manager at CAM-BCCC.

 Gilberto states that, thanks to the adoption of digital access to proceedings, in 2021 the Center became a signatory to the Greener Arbitration Protocol, which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of arbitration proceedings. In that regard, last year the CAM-BCCC also signed the Green Pledge, an agreement among arbitration organizations to adopt green protocols. For this, an Internal Committee for Sustainable Development was created, which works on several fronts, from communications — to raise awareness among its internal audience in order to adopt sustainable practices —, to the adaptation of physical spaces — with the installation of lights with presence sensors, for example —, to compliance with legislation and agreements in the area, such as the purchase of carbon credits.

 A Green Pledge, or “Campaign for Greener Arbitrations,” was created in 2019 by arbitrator Lucy Greenwood. In 2020, this group, led by her, started developing protocols to guide various players in the arbitration industry — arbitrators, lawyers, institutions and suppliers — in identifying areas where each of the stakeholders could adjust behaviors in order to reduce their environmental footprint.

Savings from digitization

With the digitization of its processes, the CAM-BCCC:

  • Saved 80 to 90% in mailing, courier and international postage expenses;
  • Avoided using about five hundred thousand sheets of paper when compared to 2019 and 2020;
  • Saved approximately R$ 520,000 from 2019 to 2020, in mailing costs alone; in 2021, this reduction totaled R$ 191,000.

Sources: Administrative Department and Internal Committee for Sustainable Development at BCCC.

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