Arbitration Going Online – New Challenges in 21st Century?

Slavomír Halla

Abstract

Accessibility of data via Internet allowed for an immense growth of international commerce. Millions of transactions are done every year by means of electronic communication. Customers no longer need to go to solid shops; merchants no longer need to sign solid copies of orders and contracts. Virtual reality has stepped in. 
   Not everything has changed – disputes do still arise, and they are solved in front of national courts (by definition solid institutions) or by alternative means. A great deal of disputes in international commerce is settled through arbitration proceeding. Arbitration is (again by definition) more informal and flexible mean of dispute settlement. Therefore, it is not surprising that the arbitration community is also following the latest trends, and that recently on-line arbitration has come to an existence. 
   However, once again we might encounter problems peculiar to cyberspace. Legal framework for arbitration on international level was created before the digital society was created. Thus, on-line arbitration is encountering problems of its own. To name a few: How should a written form requirement of arbitration agreement be interpreted? What is the seat of arbitration in on-line arbitration? Is an award enforceable? And of course are we still speaking about arbitration? This article will try to point several of these difficulties out, and if possible to suggest solutions. 

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