A new experience of virtual mooting

Hong Kong has, for the first time, held the Willem C. Vis (East) International Commercial Arbitration Moot (VEM) through an online platform amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While most of the competitions in other jurisdictions have been cancelled or postponed due to challenges posed by the pandemic, the 17th VEM was the only international mooting which went ahead as scheduled through an online dispute resolution (ODR) platform.

Though the outbreak of COVID-19 has changed our travel patterns and presented many challenges, advance in modern technology has helped us to address them. For the first time in the Moot’s history, the mooting competition was conducted completely online with the support of eBRAM. The platform supported by eBRAM accommodated 71 teams from 21 jurisdictions and about 250 arbitrators from 52 jurisdictions to take part in the Moot which started on March 22. This exemplifies the importance of technological developments in the legal field.

The audience, with the latest lawtech support by eBRAM, watched the online lively and intensive oral arguments with participants of the finalists showing considerable flair and aptitude in trying their best in presenting their case to an international panel of distinguished arbitrators. The Chinese University of Hong Kong won the competition after rounds of rigorous and remarkable oral submissions before the distinguished panel of arbitrators.

The Government of Hong Kong has always been supportive of the development of lawtech spearheaded by, amongst others, eBRAM, which is expected to be launched this year to resolve cross-border disputes online. If funding is approved by the Finance Committee on time, eBRAM would be able to provide an efficient, cost-effective, and safe online platform for deal-making and resolution of cross-border commercial and investment disputes. We understand that eBRAM also plans to develop an online dispute resolution platform to support cross border business-to-business transactions in the APEC Region.

We would continue to offer our support to the VEM as part of our legal education campaign. However, the VEM would not have been held smoothly without the technical support provided by eBRAM and also the tenacity and determination displayed by the Vis East Moot Foundation. The successful conclusion of the Moot proved that Hong Kong has the capability of developing lawtech.

Changes are inevitable, including technological changes. The pandemic outbreak posed new challenges to Hong Kong but it also provides an opportunity for us to explore lawtech in the provision of legal services. We all should join hands to make best use of the technologies to develop ODR to assist all parties in resolving disputes in an efficient, effective and fair manner with a view to bringing rule of law and justice for all.

March 31, 2020