Dubai Chamber At The Forefront Of Applying Virtual Mediation To Settle Business Disputes
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Jehad Kazim, Director of the Legal Services Department at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has revealed that the Chamber has been at the forefront of applying virtual mediation as a means of settling disputes. It is one of the first local and regional chambers of commerce to use this tool, considering the challenge of conducting mediation processes due to COVID-19. The Chamber has transformed this challenge into an ideal opportunity to fully convert to virtual mediation, which is beginning to gain great acceptance among the disputing parties. This is reflective of Dubai Chamber’s ability to adapt to challenging situations and maintain business continuity.
The virtual mediation service is part of Chamber’s aim to provide an integrated system of smart and electronic services that cover all the needs and requirements of the business community, which enables its customers to complete all their transactions remotely, easily, and in accordance with the highest international standards. With 98% of core services available online, its members can continue their business operations uninterrupted.
Elaborating on the effectiveness of this tool, Kazim pointed out that since the move to remote working at the beginning of April, the Chamber conducted an average of one virtual mediation daily. Kazim added that this is indicative of the efficiency of virtual mediation in settling disputes in a swift and cost-effective manner, keeping in mind that they have received more than 30 cases so far.
In a private interview, Kazim pointed out that the Chamber had moved mediation online in 2010, and in past years, it had also launched its smart application for mediation. She pointed out that it is this forward thinking by the Chamber that made it possible for them to to continue their services seamlessly during COVID-19.
The Director of the Chamber's Legal Services Department indicated that the major challenge at the beginning was the reluctance of the parties involved to settle their disputes virtually. Other challenges included the preference by concerned parties to submit documents and paperwork physically.
Jehad Kazim, Director of the Legal Services Department at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Kazim pointed out that the vision of Dubai to be the smartest city in the world and its efforts to promote appropriate infrastructure greatly assisted in the acceptance of the disputing parties of the practice, and after their experience with virtual mediation the disputing parties’ opinion changed completely. Kazim pointed out that there has also been a change in sectors reporting trade disputes to the Chamber since the start of the pandemic, stating that the construction sector before COVID-19 accounted for two-thirds of the number of mediation cases, while now it is ranked third.
The Director of the Legal Services Department at the Dubai Chamber revealed that the number of mediation cases received by the Chamber during the first quarter of this year amounted to 113 cases, with a growth rate of about 19% compared to the number of cases received during the first quarter of 2019, revealing that approximately 17% out of the total of these cases were settled in the first quarter of this year, confirming that mediation is an ideal option for settling commercial disputes.
Kazim pointed out that the value of disputes that were settled during the first quarter of 2020, amounted to approximately AED2.4 million, stressing that the awareness of the private sector in the Emirate of Dubai of the competitive advantages of mediation has helped to increase the demand for it as one of the successful, fast, and inexpensive alternative means of settling business disputes in comparison to traditional litigations and arbitrations, noting that one of the most important advantages of mediation is to preserve the business relationship between the parties in dispute.
Kazim also indicated that the smart mediation application launched by the Chamber a few years ago constitutes an added service to customers due to its ease of use and simple, uncomplicated, and fast procedures that do not require more than eight minutes. These procedures include a summary of the business dispute and the requests of the complainants, in addition to uploading the documents supporting the case. Kazim drew attention to the advantages of the smart mediation application, as it is available in both Arabic and English.
Using the app, the concerned party can submit the application, upload documents, pay the prescribed fees, and fill out a customer satisfaction questionnaire. The application also provides options for following up on new and old applications, providing follow-up reports for applications and completing them, in addition to browsing the general newsroom and registering for the Dubai Chamber membership. Clients can submit requests via the smart application to obtain all the services provided by the Chamber's legal services department, which includes mediation, information, workshops, and webinars organized throughout the year.