The concerns expressed about Climate Change and the part carbon emission play is of importance to everyone and everyone can play a part in reducing emissions.  This includes the ADR community.

Arbitration leads to carbon emissions from flights taken by arbitrators and the parties with their teams of representatives to attend hearings.  Video conferencing using secure platforms such as Zoom can reduce these emissions for final hearings and preliminary, interlocutory hearings too.

The procedural steps toward that final hearing are overlooked in terms of Climate Change.  Procedure is usually the subject of debate about how best to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.  Secure Cloud based platforms are the best approach in this respect so long as they are tailored to ADR and thereby expedite the proceedings.

The use of a secure Cloud based Platform such as DEF significantly contributes to ameliorating the effect of Climate Change.

Firstly by avoiding the need to move paper from one place to another.  Many Institutions with Rules made before 2018 still require postal or personal delivery of the Notice to Commence an arbitration to the administration centre for a Scheme.

The second compelling reason to use DEF as a bespoke Platform for conducting arbitration (and other forms of ADR) is to minimise (if not completely avoid) the use of paper.  This can be illustrated by a recent ICSID Treaty dispute where the parties came from different offices in Europe to the place of hearing in Paris.  The relevant factors contributing to Climate Change are these:

  • The hearing bundle for one side alone amounted to 51 Bankers’ boxes
  • Each box contained 4 lever arches
  • Each lever arch contained 500 A4 sheets of paper
  • At the hearing itself the 51 lever arches would have to be multiplied at least 6 times to provide the Bundle to each party and for each Members of the Arbitral Panel of typically 3 Members
  • Transportation

This affects Climate Change in the following ways:

  • Photocopying is a profit centre but also a cost in terms of electricity consumed by such a vast copying exercise
  • The paper for each copy of the Bundle would amount to just under 90,000 A4 sheets or ca 540,000 A4 sheets of paper for all 6 Bundles
  • The weight of that paper when taken together with the lever arches holding the paper and the weight of the boxes themselves amounts to approximately 4 tonnes for all 6 Bundles of 51 boxes each
  • The Bundles then had to be transported from the law firms’ offices to Paris. Taking the train would help but the sheer back-breaking effort involved is not healthy for anyone let alone the World.  If transported by road the adverse Climate Change effect significantly increases.  In my example both firms were based outside France.

The significance of this exercise is a significant contribution to Climate Change in terms of carbon emissions and tree felling.

The world-wide magnitude of this excess is not readily calculable because the number of ADR events is not readily available but there are a lot and increasing in number as more jurisdictions require the use of ADR either under agreements, inter-State Treaties or for particular dispute types – for example the mandatory mediation schemes in Turkey for employment disputes and commercial disputes.