The Next Generation of Online Dispute Resolution: Hong Kong's eBRAM Platform
With intentions to quickly and efficiently resolve disputes arising as a result of COVID-19 and aid legal tech developments in Hong Kong, an Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) Scheme has been launched.
The platform, created by eBRAM, will allow parties to submit agreements and undertake negotiation, mediation and arbitration proceedings online.
Who can access the ODR Scheme?
To benefit from the Scheme:
One party must be a Hong Kong resident or company;
The case value must be under HK$500,000;
The dispute must be arbitral under Hong Kong law;
The dispute must be on any commercial, contractual, tortious, property, family or tenancy dispute that has arisen directly or indirectly as a result of COVID-19.
What is the Three-Tier Procedure and What are the Time Restrictions?
The parties must enter into, sign and submit an ODR agreement to eBRAM, which outlines the claims.
After availability on the Platform is given, the respondent has three-days to respond to the claims, and the claimant has a further three days to respond to the counterclaims.
First Tier - Negotiation
The parties have three days to negotiate their dispute with aims to settle. They can have one extension of three days if needed.
Second Tier - Mediation
If a settlement is not reached through negotiations, parties will appoint a mediator from a list provided by eBRAM within three days. The parties will then have three days to reach an agreement.
Third Tier - Arbitration
If mediation fails, the parties will start arbitration proceedings. They will appoint an arbitrator through the same method as the mediation tier and will have three days to appoint.
The parties are then given one month to file all communications and submissions. Within seven days of the final submission, the arbitral award will be given to the parties which cannot be appealed.
As the Scheme is government-funded (apart from HK$200 for registration fees), with a concise three-tier procedure and time restrictions, it has been a welcome introduction into Hong Kong’s legal sphere. As an arbitral award will be given within two months (maximum), the scheme allows disputes to be resolved efficiently and amicably with a relatively low cost to the parties.
Amit & Co encourages you to actively explore all of your routes to dispute resolution, including online dispute resolution.
Amit Ben-Yehoshua is an international mediator and arbitrator. Amit is licensed to practice law in California and Israel and completed his Master of Law in Chinese Law, Tsinghua University. Amit served on the foreign panel of arbitrators of China's largest arbitration Commission - CIETAC and was recently appointed to the distinguished panel of mediators of SCMS - Shanghai Commercial Mediation Center. For more information about arbitration and international dispute resolution, please feel free to reach attorney and mediator Amit Ben-Yehoshua at firstname.lastname@example.org.